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BELINDA 



BY 

MARIA EDGEWORTH 



ILLUSTRATED BY CHRIS HAMMOND 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 
ANNE THACKERAY RITCHIE 






Honhott 

MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited. 

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 

1896 

All rights reserved 



. I 



J 



•• • • 
• « « • 






• • 






tA&^^ 



INTRODUCTION 

It is to Miss Beaufort, the fourth Mrs. Edgeworth, that we 
owe those delightful volumes of biography and correspond- 
ence which deserves a place upon the shelf where we keep 
our Walpole, our D'Arblay, our S^vignd, and in which two 
accomplished women have given such delightful sketches of 
the brilliant and intelligent society in which they lived. In 
these volumes we find the story of the writing of Belinda. 
It was published in 1801. ' Maria was at Black Castle when 
the first copy reached her, and she contrived, before her 
aunt Mrs. Ruxton saw it, to tear out the title-pages of the 
<^ three volumes, so that her aunt read on without the least 

^ suspicion of who was the author. Mrs. Ruxton was ex- 

cessively entertained and delighted. She insisted on 
.V Maria's listening to passage after passage as she went on. 

11^ Maria aflfected to be deeply interested in some book she 

^ held in her hand, and when Mrs. Ruxton exclaimed, " Is 

^ not that admirably written?" Maria coldly replied, "Ad- 

mirably read ! I think." Again and again Mrs. Ruxton 
called upon Maria for her sympathy, until, quite pro- 
voked at her faint acquiescence, she at last accused her 
of being jealous. " I am sorry to see my little Maria un- 
able to bear the praises of a rival author." 

At this Maria burst into tears, and showing the title- 
pages, she declared herself the author. But Mrs. Ruxton 

vn 



BELINDA 

was not pleased ; she never liked Belinda afterwards, and 
Maria had always a painful recollection of her aunt's sus- 
pecting her of the meanness of envy.' Perhaps it was under 
the influence of this early association that in her later 
correspondence Miss Edgeworth herself falls foul of Belinda, 
and accuses her of tameness, and says she has no patience 
with her. 

* I really was so provoked with the cold tameness of that 
stick or stone Belinda that I could have torn the pages to 
pieces,' she writes to Mrs. Barbauld. Miss Zimmern quotes 
the passage, and adds, ' At no time did Miss Edgeworth 
even set a due value on her work, still less an exaggerated 
one.' 

Belinda is the story of a young and beautiful girl sur- 
rounded by frivolous and double-minded people ; she has 
been brought up by a scheming aunt, but she is single- 
minded and true-hearted She is chaperoned by Lady 
Delacour, a leader of fashion, and introduced to the 
smartest circles of those brilliant days. Lady Delacour's 
house is filled with well-dressed crowds. * When it blazed 
with lights and resounded with music and dancing. Lady 
Delacour, in the character of Mistress of the Revels, shone, 
the soul and spirit of pleasure and frolic ; but the moment 
the company retired, when the music ceased and the lights 
were extinguished, the spell was dissolved. She would 
walk up and down the empty magnificent saloons, absorbed 
in thoughts, seemingly of the most painful nature.' Of 
Lord Delacour for some days Belinda hears nothing after 
her arrival ; but at last they meet His lordship is arriving 
dead drunk in the arms of two footmen, who are carry- 
ing him upstairs. The heroes of those days seem to get 
tipsy as a matter of course, just as the heroines faint 
away. Clarence Hervey, the agreeable friend of Lady 

• • • 

vui 



INTRODUCTION 

Delacour, whatever his failings may be, always comes 
in sober, and with plenty of brilliant and ready conversa- 
tion, on the nature of ladies^ promises, the size of the arm 
of the Venus de Medici, on the size of Lady Delacour's 
own arm. He also descants on the thick legs of ancient 
statues, on Mrs. Luttridge and her wig. Mr. Hervey 
displays so much wit, gallantry, and satire on all these 
topics, and talks with so happy an effect, that Belinda is 
quite charmed. Clarence is also charmed, but he mistrusts 
Belinda's bringing up, and imagines her to be no less 
worldly and frivolous than her surroundings. He has an 
Utopian scheme for bringing up an artless wife to suit his 
own particular taste, and hence much of the imbroglio 
which follows. Mrs. Freke, a lively will o' the wisp of 
fashion, takes a very different view of Belinda to Clarence 
Hervey's ; she looks over the books on her table and asks 
her why she reads them. Belinda says she reads them 
that she may think for herself. * Only to ruin your under- 
standing, trust me,' exclaims Mrs. Freke, turning over the 
books. * Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments — milk and 
water! Moore's Travels — hasty pudding! La Bruyere — 
nettle porridge ! ' cries the lively lady ; and then, taking up 
a book in which she sees Belinda's mark, Against Incon- 
sistency in our Expectations^ * Poor thing,' says she, * who 
bored you with this task?' Whatever Mrs. Freke may 
have thought, Mrs. Barbauld must certainly have appre- 
ciated Miss Edgeworth's pretty little compliment in thus 
leaving her heroine's mark between the pages of the 
admirable essay. 

Belinda was included in this edition after some delibera- 
tion, not because it is the best of Miss Edgeworth's stories, 
but because it is certainly one of the best known. The pretty 
name carries a certain distinction along with it (nor is she 

ix 



BELINDA 

the only Belinda whose beauty and grace have fascinated 
succeeding generations of novel - readers). Critics are 
divided about Belinda^ says Miss Zimmem; there are 
portions of the story where Miss Edgeworth is at her best 
Sir Philip Baddely's account of the F^tes at Frogmore, his 
talk, his proposal to Belinda, she calls a masterpiece of 
caustic humour, but there is also the tiresome and pre- 
posterous episode of Virginia by Mr. Edgeworth, to 
represent the other side of the medal. Virginia is the 
young lady Clarence had intended to train up as a wife for 
himself. The idiotic Virginia — happily for Clarence — falls 
in love with the picture of somebody else, and then the 
original of the picture appears. All this of course would be 
a concatenation after Mr. Edgeworth's own heart. Miss 
Edgeworth had intended to make Lady Delacour die. She 
is described as a spirited, dashing lady of quality, with a 
certain nobility and sincerity which redeem her reckless 
career. It was Mr. Edgeworth who insisted upon having 
her life spared, and accordingly she is saved by Belinda's 
means ; surviving to speak a sort of epilogue, with all the 
characters assembled round about her, as the curtain drops 
upon the scene, and Clarence and Belinda come to a happy 
understanding. But it must be confessed that it is all 
very confused and disappointing, and the beginning of the 
book is far better than the end, which Mr. Edgeworth 
seems to have taken in hand with such ill results. A well- 
known critic has justly called him one of the strangest 
characters ever compounded in the vast laboratory from 
which emerge those strange freaks called men and women. 
He was like a man with a good voice, and without any ear, 
sometimes a note came true and sometimes false. It was 
all a chance, but he never had the good fortune to hear the 
truth. Some one talks of the natural claque given by 

X 



INTRODUCTION 

heaven to men, that of applauding parents ; in Mr. Edge- 
worth's case, that of applauding children followed his words 
and every motion. It was a genuine, an organised applause 
headed by the modest Maria. Everything goes to prove 
that his children's affectionate admiration was warm and 
sincere. There is a letter from one of Mr. Edgeworth's sons 
which shows in what estimation they hold him ; the son 
will not engage himself until he has his father's consent 
' You,' the son says to his father, * who have always been 
successful in love, cannot judge of the flow of joy which 
now fills my bosom at the result of my visit to Derby. I 
am convinced that Miss Broadhurst is not only in every 
way formed to make me happy, but that she only waits 
your approbation to sanction my being her declared 
admirer. This I hope you will have no reason to withhold. 
. . . She has too great an awe of your talents, she does not 
yet know the tenderness of your affections. O my 
beloved father, confirm the happiness of your son, who has 
a heart that would not disobey, but cannot cease to 
love.' The young man concludes his letter by a de- 
scription of the scenery : * Love,' he says, * coloured every 
vision of happiness, which it is now in my father's power 
to realise. . . .' He signs his letter, 'Your ardent and 
dutiful son, Charles Sneyd Edgeworth.' « 

Scott, Sir James Mackintosh, and Sydney Smith all 
reviewed Miss Edgeworth in due time, but it took time for 
the critics to express their full approbation. The Edin- 
burgh for 1804 is modified in its praise. The Edinburgh 
for 1809 is quite unstinted in its (lattering allusion, and I 
have been told that Sydney Smith is the writer of the article. 
Sir James Mackintosh criticises Miss Edgeworth with sym- 
pathetic enthusiasm in his correspondence, though he 
speaks of her peculiar code of morals and the qualities she 

xi 



BELINDA 

selects for praise. Miss Edgeworth's extraordinary merit 
consists, he says, in her having selected a class of virtues 
far more difficult to treat as a subject of fiction than others, 
and which had therefore been left by other writers for her. 
Belinda came out immediately after Castle Rcukrent, 
*The Edgeworths immediately became famous,' says Mr. 
Hare, * and the books were at once translated into French 
and German.' { 



xu 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 



Characters 



PACE 

I 



CHAPTER II 



Masks 



« • 



14 



CHAPTER III 



Lady Delacour's History 



31 



CHAPTER IV 



Lady Delacour's History continued . 



50 



CHAPTER V 



Birthday Dresses . 



67 



CHAPTER VI 



Ways and Means . 



82 



CHAPTER VII 



The Serpentine River . 



xiu 



89 



BELINDA 
CHAPTER VIII 

PAGE 

A Family Party ...... 99 

CHAPTER IX 
Advice . . . ^ . . .111 

CHAPTER X 
The Mysterious Boudoir . . . .127 

CHAPTER XI 
Difficulties . . . .139 

CHAPTER XII 
The Macaw . . . . • ^55 

CHAPTER XIII 

SORTES ViRGILIANAE . . . 167 

CHAPTER XIV 
The Exhibition . . . .181 

CHAPTER XV 
Jealousy ..... « . 203 

CHAPTER XVI 

Domestic Happiness . . . . .217 

xiv 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XVII 
Rights of Woman ..... 230 

CHAPTER XVIII 
A Declaration . . . . .241 

CHAPTER XIX 
A Wedding ...... 255 

CHAPTER XX 
Reconciliation . . . . .271 

CHAPTER XXI 
'Helena ....... 293 

CHAPTER XXII 
A Spectre . . . . . . .310 

CHAPTER XXIII 
The Chaplain ...... 326 

CHAPTER XXIV 
Peu a Peu ....... 335 

CHAPTER XXV 
Love Me, Love my Dog ..... 353 

XV 



BELINDA 
CHAPTER XXVI 

PAGB 

Virginia . . . . . . • 37i 

CHAPTER XXVII 
A Discovery ...... 399 

CHAPTER XXVIII 
E O . . . . . . 425 

CHAPTER XXIX 
A Jew . . .... 444 

CHAPTER XXX 
News ....... 456 

CHAPTER XXXI 
The Denouement ...... 468 



XVI 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Belinda's astonishment was almost as great at this instant as 
lady Delacour's confusion , . Fr(mtispiece 

< Go on, Lady Delacour,' said his lordship ... 8 

' No love-letters, indeed, L*ady Delacour,' said Belinda, holding 

the paper fast ...... 13 

* Will you give Miss Portman a glass of water ? — there's some 

behind you on that sideboard, man ! ' . . .24 

< Promise, swear to me,' resumed Lady Delacour . . 29 

< My Lady Delacour, I am not a man to be governed by a wife' 36 

I was left standing alone till I could stand no longer . . 49 

Mrs. Lttttridge, as I hoped and expected, was beyond measure 

enraged at the sight of the caricature and epigram . 52 

A person who was driving up the lane a large herd of squeak- 

ing, grunting pigs ..... 58 

' Do you forget that Belinda Portman and her accomplishments 
have already been as well advertised as Packwood's razor- 
strops?' ...... 72 

He threw down the music-stand with his hoop . . 7^ 

* No, no,' exclaimed Clarence, laughing, < it is not come to that 

with me yet, Lady Delacour, I promise you ' . .79 

* Dr. X I ' cried he. * Is it possible ? How rejoiced I am 

to see you ! ' . . . . .96 

xvii 



BELINDA 



PAGB 



The old lady walked away to an antechamber, fanning herself 

with great energy ..... 104 

Clarence Hervey threw himself at her feet . . .116 

* O Miss Portman, what shall we do ? what shall we do ? — 

My lady I my poor lady I' .... 129 

Belinda, though she cast but one involuntary, hasty glance at it, 

was struck with the beauty of its colour . . .143 

< You can't be in earnest, Miss Portman ! ' exclaimed the 

astonished baronet . . . . .157 

* Lady Delacour, here is the young lady who sent you the gold- 

fishes . . . . .174 

She turned abruptly away from the picture, and she saw Clarence 

Hervey standing beside her . . . .196 

She stamped with a look of rage . . . .213 

He looked up in astonishment to hear such a voice from a woman 226 
She threw herself into an arm-chair, and laughed immoderately 237 

* Our Lucy takes no offence at his courting her now, my lady, 

I can assure you ' . . . . .251 

* My lord and lady shall never come together, if I can help it * 268 

Grief and horror and pity were painted in Lord Delacour*s 

countenance, as he passed hastily through the room . 276 

* Miss Portman will think us both a couple of old fools,* said 

her ladyship, making a slight effort to withdraw her hand 292 

* Dear mamma, I never was so happy in my life ; for you never 

looked so very, very kindly at me before * . . 298 

She turned, and saw Helena standing at the half-open bed- 
chamber door ...... 306 

She sat down trembling on the steps which led to her mother's 

room ....... 322 

Belinda appeared, her countenance radiant with joy . . 324 

It was the common practice of this man to leap from his horse 
at the church door on a holiday, after following a pack of 

xviii 



PAGB 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

hounds, huddle on his surplice, and gabble over the 
service ....... 329 

Belinda read with some surprise .... 345 

< My dear Belinda, how can you stand this fire ? ' said Lady 

Delacour . . ... 365 

Mr. Hervey saw a young girl watering the rose-trees, and an 

old woman beside her ..... 374 

Trembling with eagerness, Mr. Hartley drew near, while 

Clarence held the light to the picture . . .415 

Seizing hold of the pistol, he snatched it from Vincent's grasp 440 

He was so dilatory and circumspect, in reading over and signing 

the bonds ...... 452 

* I am sorry for it,' interrupted Mrs. Delacour, rising from her 

seat, with a look of some displeasure . . . 466 

* Clarence, you have a right to Belinda's hand ' . . 484 



XIX 



V 



CHAPTER I 

CHARACTERS 

Mrs. Stanhope, a well-bred woman, accomplished in that 
branch of knowledge which is called the art of rising in the 
world, had, with but a small fortune, contrived to live in the 
highest company. She prided herself upon having established 
half a dozen nieces most happily, that is to say, upon having 
married them to men of fortunes far superior to their own. One 
niece still remained unmarried — Belinda Portman, of whom 
she was determined to get rid with all convenient expedition. 
Belinda was handsome, graceful, sprightly, and highly accom- 
plished ; her aunt had endeavoured to teach her that a young 
lady's chief business is to please in society, that all her charms 
and accomplishments should be invariably subservient to one 
grand object — the establishing herself in the world ; 

For this, hands, lips, and eyes were put to school, 
And each instructed feature had its rule. 

Mrs. Stanhope did not find Belinda such a docile pupil as 
her other nieces, for she had been educated chiefly in the 
country : she had early been inspired with a taste for domestic 
pleasures ; she was fond of reading, and disposed to conduct 
herself with prudence and integrity. Her character, however, 
was yet to be developed by circumstances. 

Mrs. Stanhope lived at Bath, where she had opportunities 
of showing her niece off, as she thought, to advantage ; but as 
her health began to decline, she could not go out with her as 
much as she wished. After manoeuvring with more than her 
usual art, she succeeded in fastening Belinda upon the fashion- 
able Lady Delacour for the season. Her ladyship was so 

B X £ 



BELINDA 

much pleased by Miss Portman's accomplishments and vivacity, 
as to invite her to spend the winter with her in London. Soon 
after her arrival in town, Belinda received the following letter 
from her aunt Stanhope. 

•Crescent, Bath. 

* After searching every place I could think of, Anne found 
your bracelet in your dressing-table, amongst a heap of odd 
things, which you left behind you to be thrown away : I have 
sent it to you by a young gentleman, who came to Bath (un- 
luckily) the very day you left me — Mr. Clarence Hervey — an 
acquaintance, and great admirer of my Lady Delacour. He is 
really an uncommonly pleasant young man, is highly connected, 
and has a fine independent fortune. Besides, he is a man of 
wit and gallantry, quite a connoisseur in female grace and 
beauty — just the man to bring a new face into fashion : so, my 
dear Belinda, I make it a point — ^look well when he is intro- 
duced to you, and remember, what I have so often told you, 
that nobody can look well without taking some pains to please. 

* I see — or at least when I went out more than my health 
will at present permit — I used to see multitudes of silly girls, 
seemingly all cut out upon the same pattern, who frequented 
public places day after day, and year after year, without any 
idea further than that of diverting themselves, or of obtaining 
transient admiration. How I have pitied and despised the 
griddy creatures, whilst I have observed them playing off their 
unmeaning airs, vying with one another in the most obvious^ 
and consequently die most ridiculous manner, so as to expose 
themselves before the very men they would attract : chattering, 
tittering, and flirting ; full of the present moment, never 
reflecting upon the future ; quite satisfied if they got a partner 
at a ball, without ever thinking of a partner for life ! I have 
often asked myself, what is to become of such girls when they 
grow old or ugly, or when the public eye grows tired of them ? 
If they have large fortunes, it is all very well ; they can afford 
to divert themselves for a season or two, without doubt ; they 
are sure to be sought after and followed, not by mere danglers, 
but by men of suitable views and pretensions : but nothing to 
my mind can be more miserable than the situation of a poor 
girl, who, after spending not only the interest, but the solid 
capital of her small fortune in dress and frivolous extravagance, 
fails in her matrimonial expectations (as many do merely from 

2 



CHARACTERS 

not beginning to speculate in time). She finds herself at five 
or six-and-thirty aburdento her friends, destitute of the means 
of rendering herself independent (for the girls I speak of never 
think of learning to play cards), de trop in society, yet obliged 
to hang upon all her acquaintance, who wish her in Heaven, 
because she is unqualified to make the exi>ected return for 
civilities, having no home — I mean no establishment, no house, 
etc. — ^fit for the reception of company of a certain rank. — My 
dearest Belinda, may this never be your case ! — You have 
every possible advantage, my love : no pains have been spared 
in your education, and (which is the essential point) I have 
taken care that this should be known — so that you have the 
name of being perfectly accomplished. You will also have the 
name of being very fashionable, if you go much into public, as 
doubtless you will with Lady Delacour. — Your own good sense 
must make you aware, my dear, that from her ladyship's situa- 
tion and knowledge of the world, it will always be proper, upon 
all subjects of conversation, for her to lead and you to follow : 
it would be very unfit for a young girl like you to suffer 
yourself to stand in competition with Lady Delacour, whose 
high pretensions to wit and beauty are indisputable, I need 
say no more to you upon this subject, my dear. Even with 
your limited experience, you must have observed how foolish 
young people offend those who are the most necessary to their 
interests, by an imprudent indulgence of their vanity. 

< Lady Delacour has an incomparable taste in dress : con- 
sult her, my dear, and do not, by an ill-judged economy, 
counteract my views — apropos, I have no objection to your 
being presented at court. You will, of course, have credit 
with all her ladyship's tradespeople, if you manage properly. 
To know how and when to lay out money is highly commend- 
able, for in some situations people judge of what one can 
afford by what one actually spends. — I know of no law which 
compels a young lady to tell what her age or her fortune may be. 
You have no occasion for caution yet on one of these points. 

* I have covered my old carpet with a handsome green 
baize, and every stranger who comes to see me, I observe, 
takes it for granted that I have a rich carpet under it Say 
everything that is proper, in your best manner, for me to Lady 
Delacour. Adieu, my dear Belinda. — Yours, very sincerely, 

* Seuna Stanhope.' 



BELINDA 

It is sometimes fortunate, that the means which are taken 
to produce certain effects upon the mind have a tendency 
directly opposite to what is expected. Mrs. Stanhope's 
perpetual anxiety about her niece's appearance, manners, and 
establishment, had completely worn out Belinda's patience ; 
she had become more insensible to the praises of her personal 
charms and accomplishments than young women of her age 
usually are, because she had been so much flattered and shown 
offy as it is called, by her match-making aunt — ^Yet Belinda 
was fond of amusement, and had imbibed some of Mrs. 
Stanhope's prejudices in favour of rank and fashion. Her 
taste for literature declined in proportion to her intercourse 
with the fashionable world, as she did not in this society per- 
ceive the least use in the knowledge that she had acquired. 
Her mind had never been roused to much reflection ; she had 
in general acted but as a puppet in the hands of others. To 
her aunt Stanhope she had hitherto paid unlimited, habitual, 
blind obedience ; but she was more undesigning, and more free 
from affectation and coquetry, than could have been expected, 
after the course of documenting which she had gone through. 
She was charmed with the idea of a visit to Lady Delacour, 
whom she thought the most agreeable — ^no, that is too feeble 
an expression — the most fascinating person she had ever 
beheld. Such was the light in which her ladyship appeared, 
not only to Belinda, but to all the world — that is to say, all the 
world of fashion, and she knew of no other. — The newspapers 
were full of Lady Delacour's parties, and Lady Delacour's 
dresses, and Lady Delacour's bon mots: everything that her 
ladyship said was repeated as witty ; everything that her lady- 
ship wore was imitated as fashionable. Female wit sometimes 
depends on the beauty of its possessor for its reputation ; and 
the reign of beauty is proverbially short, and fashion often 
capriciously deserts her favourites, even before nature withers 
their charms. Lady Delacour seemed to be a fortunate 
exception to these general rules : long after she had lost the 
bloom of youth, she continued to be admired as a fashionable 
bel esprit J and long after she had ceased to be a novelty in 
society, her company was courted by all the gay, the witty, and 
the gallant. To be seen in public with Lady Delacour, to be 
a visitor at her house, were privileges of which numbers were 
vehemently ambitious ; and Belinda Portman was congratulated 

4 



CHARACTERS 

and envied by all her acquaintance, for being admitted as an 
inmate. How could she avoid thinking herself singularly 
fortunate ? 

A short time after her arrival at Lady Delacour*s, Belinda 
began to see through the thin veil with which politeness covers 
domestic misery. — Abroad, and at home, Lady Delacour was 
two different persons. Abroad she appeared all life, spirit, and 
good humour — at home, listless, fretful, and melancholy ; she 
seemed like a spoiled actress off the stage, over-stimulated by 
applause, and exhausted by the exertions of supporting a 
fictitious character. — When her house was filled with well- 
dressed crowds, when it blazed with lights, and resounded 
with music and dancing, Lady Delacour, in the character of 
Mistress of the Revels, shone the soul and spirit of pleasure 
and frolic : but the moment the company retired, when the 
music ceased, and the lights were extinguishing, the spell was 
dissolved. 

She would sometimes walk up and down the empty mag- 
nificent saloon, absorbed in thoughts seemingly of the most 
painful nature. 

For some days after Belinda's arrival in town she heard 
nothing of Lord Delacour ; his lady never mentioned his name, 
except once accidentally, as she was showing Miss Portman the 
house, she said, * Don't open that door — those are only Lord 
Delacour's apartments.' — The first time Belinda ever saw his 
lordship, he was dead drunk in the arms of two footmen, who 
were carrying him upstairs to his bedchamber : his lady, who 
was just returned from Ranelagh, passed by him on the landing- 
place with a look of sovereign contempt. 

* What is the matter ? — Who is this ? ' said Belinda. 

* Only the body of my Lord Delacour,' said her ladyship : 
*his bearers have brought it up the wrong staircase. Take it 
down again, my good friends ; let his lordship go his own way. 
Don't look so shocked and amazed, Belinda — don't look so 
neWy child : this funeral of my lord's intellects is to me a 
nightly, or,' added her ladyship, looking at her watch and 
yawning, * I believe I should say a daily ceremony — six o'clock, 
I protest 1' 

The next morning, as her ladyship and Miss Portman were 
sitting at the breakfast table, after a very late breakfast. Lord 
Delacour entered the room. 



BELINDA 

* Lord Delacour, sober, my dear,' — said her ladyship to 
Miss Portman, by way of introducing him. Prejudiced by her 
ladyship, Belinda was inclined to think that Lord Delacour 
sober would not be more agreeable or more rational than Lord 
Delacour drunk. * How old do you tal:e my lord to be ? ' 
whispered her ladyship, as she saw Belinda's eye fixed upon 
the trembling hand which carried his teacup to his lips : * I'll 
lay you a wager,' continued she aloud — * I'll lay your birth- 
night dress, gold fringe, and laurel wreaths into the bargain, 
that you don't guess right.' 

* I hope you don't think of going to this birthnight, Lady 
Delacour ? ' said his lordship. 

* I'll give you six guesses, and I'll bet you don't come 
within sixteen years,' pursued her ladyship, still looking at 
Belinda. 

*You cannot have the new carriage you have bespoken,' 
said his lordship. * Will you do me the honour to attend to 
me, Lady Delacour ? ' 

* Then you won't venture to guess, Belinda,' said her lady- 
ship (without honouring her lord with the smallest portion of 
her attention) — *Well, I believe you are right — for certainly 
you would guess him to be six-and-sixty, instead of six-and 
thirty; but then he can drink more than any two-legged 
animal in his majesty's dominions, and you know that is an 
advantage which is well worth twenty or thirty years of a 
man's life — especially to persons who have no other chance of 
distinguishing themselves.' 

' If some people had distinguished themselves a little less 
in the world,' retorted his lordship, *it would have been as 
well I ' 
^ * As well ! — how flat ! ' 

* Flatly then I have to inform you, Lady Delacour, that I 
will neither be contradicted nor laughed at — you understand 
me, — it would be as well, flat or not flat, my Lady Delacour, 
if your ladyship would attend more to your own conduct, and 
less to others 1 ' 

* To that of others — ^his lordship means, if he means any- 
thing. Apropos, Belinda, did not you tell me Clarence Hervey 
is coming to town ? — You have never seen him. — Well, I'll 
describe him to you by negatives. He is not a man who ever 
says anything Jlaf — he is not a man who must be wound up 

6 



CHARACTERS 

with half a dozen bottles of champagne before he can go — he is 
not a man who, when he does go, goes wrong, and won't be set 
right — he is not a man, whose whole consequence, if he were 
married, would depend on his wife — he is not a man, who, if 
he were married, would be so desperately afraid of being 
governed by his wife, that he would turn gambler, jockey, or 
sot, merely to show that he could govern himself. 

' Go on. Lady Delacour,' said his lordship, who had been 
in vain attempting to balance a spoon on the edge of his tea- 
cup during the whole of this speech, which was delivered with 
the most animated desire to provoke — * Go on. Lady Delacour 
— all I desire is, that you should go on ; Clarence Hervey will 
be much obliged to you, and I am sure so shall L Go on, my 
Lady Delacour — go on, and you'll oblige me.' 

* I never will oblige you, my lord, that you may depend 
upon,' cried her ladyship, with a look of indignant contempt. 

His lordship whistled, rang for his horses, and looked at his 
nails with a smile. Belinda, shocked and in a great confusion, 
rose to leave the room, dreading the gross continuance of this 
matrimonial dialogue. 

* Mr. Hervey, my lady,' said a footman, opening the door ; 
and he was scarcely announced, when her ladyship went 
forward to receive him with an air of easy familiarity. — * Where 
have you buried yourself, Hervey, this age past ? ' cried she, 
shaking hands with him : ^ there's absolutely no living in this 
most stupid of all worlds without you. — Mr. Hervey — Miss 
Portman — but don't look as if you were half asleep, man — 
What are you dreaming of, Clarence ? Why looks your grace 
so heavily to-day ? ' 

* Oh ! I have passed a miserable night,' replied Clarence, 
throwing himself into an actor's attitude, and speaking in a 
fine tone of stage declamation. 

* What was your dream, my lord ? I pray you, tell me, * 

said her ladyship in a similar tone. — Clarence went on — 

' O Lord, methought what pain it was to dance ! 
What dreadful noise of fiddles in my ears ! 
What sights of ugly belles within my eyes 1 

Then came wandering by, 

A shadow like a devil, with red hair, 

'Dizen'd with flowers ; and she bawl'd out aloud, 

Clarence is come ; false, fleeting, perjured Clarence ! ' 

7 



' Go ffH, Lady Delamir^ taid hu 



wm 



CHARACTERS 

' Oh, Mrs. Luttridge to the life ! ' cried Lady Delacour : * I 
know where you have been now, and I pity you — but sit down,* 
said she, making room for him between Belinda and herself 
upon the sofa, ' sit down here, and tell me what could take you 
to that odious Mrs Luttridge's.' 

Mr. Hervey threw himself on the sofa; Lord Delacour 
whistled as before, and left the room without uttering a 
syllable. 

* But my dream has made me forget myself strangely,' said 
Mr. Hervey, turning to Belinda, and producing her bracelet : 
*Mrs. Stanhope promised me that if I delivered it safely, I 
should be rewarded with the honour of putting it on the 
owner's fair arm.' A conversation now took place on the 
nature of ladies' promises — on fashionable bracelets — on the 
size of the arm of the Venus de Medici — on Lady Delacour's 
and Miss Portman's — on the thick legs of ancient statues — 
and on the various defects and absurdities of Mrs. Luttridge 
and her wig. On all these topics Mr. Hervey displayed much 
wit, gallantry, and satire, with so happy an effect, that Belinda, 
when he took leave, was precisely of her aunt's opinion, that 
he was a most uncommonly pleasant young man. 

Clarence Hervey might have been more than a pleasant 
young man, if he had not been smitten with the desire of being 
thought superior in everything, and of being the most admired 
person in all companies. He had been early flattered with 
the idea that he was a man of genius ; and he imagined that, 
as such, he was entitled to be imprudent, wild, and eccentric. 
He affected singularity, in order to establish his claims to 
genius. He had considerable literary talents, by which he 
was distinguished at Oxford ; but he was so dreadfully 
afraid of passing for a pedant, that when he came into the 
company of the idle and the ignorant, he pretended to disdain 
every species of knowledge. His chameleon character seemed 
to vary in different lights, and according to the different 
situations in which he happened to be placed. He could be 
all things to all men — and to all women. He was supposed 
to be a favourite with the fair sex ; and of all his various excel- 
lencies and defects, there was none on which he valued himself 
so much as on his gallantry. He was not profligate ; he had 
a strong sense of honour, and quick feelings of humanity ; but 
he was so easily led, or rather so easily excited by his com- 

9 



BELINDA 

panions, and his companions were now of such a sort, that it 
was probable he would soon become vicious. As to his 
connection with Lady Delacour, he would have started with 
horror at the idea of disturbing the peace of a family ; but in 
her family, he said, there was no peace to disturb ; he was 
vain of having it seen by the world that he was distinguished 
by a lady of her wit and fashion, and he did not think it 
incumbent on him to be more scrupulous or more attentive to 
appearances, than her ladyship. By Lord Delacour's jealousy 
he was sometimes provoked, sometimes amused, and sometimes 
flattered. He was constantly of all her ladyship's parties in 
public and private ; consequently he saw Belinda almost every 
day, and every day he saw her with increasing admiration of 
her beauty, and with increasing dread of being taken in to 
marry a niece of * the catch-tnatch-maker^ the name by which 
Mrs. Stanhope was known amongst the men of his acquaint- 
ance. Young ladies who have the misfortune to be conducted 
by these artful dames, are always supposed to be partners in 
jl. all the speculations, though their names may not appear in the 
I' firm. If he had not been prejudiced by the character of her 
aunt, Mr. Hervey would have thought Belinda an undesigning, 
unaffected girl ; but now he suspected her of artifice in every 
word, look, and motion ; and even when he felt himself most 
charmed by her powers of pleasing, he was most inclined to 
despise her, for what he thought such premature proficiency 
in scientific coquetry. He had not sufficient resolution to keep 
beyond the sphere of her attraction ; but, frequently, when he 
found himself within it, he cursed his folly, and drew back with 
sudden terror. His manner towards her was so variable and 
inconsistent, that she knew not how to interpret its language. 
Sometimes she fancied, that with all the eloquence of eyes he 
said, ^ I adore you^ Belinda' ; at other times she imagined that 
his guarded silence meant to warn her that he was so entangled 
by Lady Delacour, that he could not extricate himself from 
her snares. Whenever this last idea struck her, it excited, in 
the most edifying manner, her indignation against coquetry in 
general, and against her ladyship's in particular : she became 
wonderfully clear-sighted to all the improprieties of her lady- 
ship's conduct. Belinda's newly acquired moral sense was so 
much shocked, that she actually wrote a full statement of her 
observations and her scruples to her aunt Stanhope ; conclud- 

lo 



CHARACTERS 

ing by a request, that she might not remain under the 
protection of a lady, of whose character she could not approve, 
and whose intimacy might perhaps be injurious to her reputa- 
tion, if not to her principles. 

Mrs. Stanhope answered Belinda's letter in a very guarded 
style ; she rebuked her niece severely for her imprudence in 
mentioning names in such a manner, in a letter sent by the 
■ common post; assured her that her reputation was in no 
danger ; that she hoped no niece of hers would set up for a 
prude — a character more suspected by men of the world than 
even that of a coquette ; that the person alluded to was a 
perfectly fit chaperon for any young lady to appear with in 
public, as long as she was visited by the first people in town ; 
that as to anything in iht private conduct of that person, and 
as to any private brouillieries between her and her lord, 
Belinda should observe on these dangerous topics a profound 
silence, both in her letters and her conversation ; that as long 
as the lady continued under the protection of her husband, the 
world might whisper, but would not speak out ; that as to 
Belinda's own principles, she would be utterly inexcusable if, 
after the education she had received, they could be hurt by 
any bad examples ; that she could not be too cautious in 

her management of a man of *s character ; that she could 

have no serious cause for jealousy in the quarter she appre- 
hended, as marriage there could not be the object ; and there 
was such a difference of age, that no permanent influence 
could probably be obtained by the lady ; that the most certain 
method for Miss Portman to expose herself to the ridicule of 
one of the parties, and to the total neglect of the other, would 
be to betray anxiety or jealousy ; that, in short, if she were 
fool enough to lose her own heart, there would be little chance 

of her being wise enough to win that of , who was 

evidently a man of gallantry rather than of sentiment, and who 
was known to play his cards well, and to have good luck when- 
ever hearts were trumps. 

Belinda's fears of Lady Delacour, as a dangerous rival, were 
much quieted by the artfiil insinuations of Mrs. Stanhope, with 
respect to her age, etc. ; and in proportion as her fears sub- 
sided, she blamed herself for having written too harshly of her 
ladyship's conduct. The idea that whilst she appeared as 
Lady Delacour's friend she ought not to propagate any stories 

II 



BELINDA 

to her disadvantage, operated powerfully upon Belinda's mind, 
and she reproached herself for having told even her aunt what 
she had seen in private. She thought that she had been 
guilty of treachery, and she wrote again immediately to Mrs. 
Stanhope, to conjure her to bum her last letter ; to forget, if 
possible, its contents ; and to believe that not a syllable of a 
similar nature should ever more be heard from her : she was 
just concluding with the words — * I hope my dear aunt will 
consider all this as an error of my judgment, and not of my 
heart,' when Lady Delacour burst into the room, exclaiming, 
in a tone of gaiety, * Tragedy or comedy, Belinda? The 
masquerade dresses are come. But how's this ? ' added she, 
looking full in Belinda's face — * tears in the eyes ! blushes in 
the cheeks ! tremors in the joints I and letters shuffling away ! 
But, you novice of novices, how awkwardly shuffled ! — ^A niece 
of Mrs. Stanhope's, and so unpractised a shuffler ! — And is it 
credible she should tremble in this ridiculous way about a love- 
letter or two ? ' 

*No love-letters, indeed. Lady Delacour,' said Belinda, 
holding the paper fast, as her ladyship, half in play, half in 
earnest, attempted to snatch it from her. 

* No love-letters ! then it must be treason ; and see it I 
must, by all that's good, or by all that's bad — I see the name 
of Delacour ! ' — and her ladyship absolutely seized the letters 
by force, in spite of all Belinda's struggles and entreaties. 

* I beg, I request, I conjure you not to read it I ' cried 
Miss Portman, clasping her hands. ' Read mine, read mine, 
if you musty but don't read my aunt Stanhope's — Oh I I 
beg, I entreat, I conjure you ! ' and she threw herself upon 
her knees. 

* You beg I you entreat ! you conjure ! Why, this is like 
the Duchess de Brinvilliers, who wrote on her paper of 
poisons, " Whoever finds this, I entreat, I conjure them, in the 
name of more saints than I can remember, not to open the 
paper any farther." — What a simpleton, to know so little of the 
nature of curiosity 1 ' 

As she spoke. Lady Delacour opened Mrs. Stanhope's 
letter, read it from beginning to end, folded it up coolly when 
she had finished it, and simply said, * The person alluded to is 
almost as bad as her name at full length : does Mrs. Stanhope 
think no one can make out an inuendo in a libel, or fill up a 

12 



BELINDA 

blank, but an attorney-general ? ' pointing to a blank in Mrs. 
Stanhope's letter, left for the name of Clarence Hervey. 

Belinda was in too much confusion either to speak or 
think. 

* You were right to swear they were not love-letters,' pur- 
sued her ladyship, laying down the papers. * I protest I 
snatched them by way of frolic — I beg pardon. All I can do 
now is not to read the rest.' 

* Nay — I beg — I wish — I insist upon your reading mine,* 
said Belinda. 

When Lady Delacour had read it, her countenance 
suddenly changed — ' Worth a hundred of your aunt's, I 
declare,' said she, patting Belinda's cheek. * What a treasure 
to meet with anything like a new heart ! — all hearts, nowa- 
days, are second-hand, at best.' 

Lady Delacour spoke with a tone of feeling which Belinda 
had never heard from her before, and which at this moment 
touched her so much, that she took her ladyship's hand and 
kissed it. 



CHAPTER II 

MASKS 

* Where were we when all this began ? ' cried Lady Delacour, 
forcing herself to resume an air of gaiety — * Oh, masquerade was 
the order of the day — tragedy or comedy ? which suits your 
genius best, my dear ? ' 

* Whichever suits your ladyship's taste least.' 

* Why, my woman, Marriott, says I ought to be tragedy ; 
and, upon the notion that people always succeed best when they 
take characters diametrically opposite to their own — Clarence 
Herve/s principle — perhaps you don't think that he has any 
principles ; but there you are wrong ; I do assure you, he has 
sound principles — of taste.' 

< Of that,' said Belinda, with a constrained smile, * he gives 
the most convincing proof, by his admiring your ladyship so 
much.' 

' And by his admiring Miss Portman so much more. But 

14 



MASKS 

whilst we are making speeches to one another, poor Marriott 
is standing in distress, like Garrick, between tragedy and 
comedy.' 

Lady Delacour opened her dressing-room door, and pointed 
to her as she stood with the dress of the comic muse on one 
arm, and the tragic muse on the other. 

' I am afraid I have not spirits enough to undertake the 
comic muse,' said Miss Portman. 

Marriott, who was a personage of prodigious consequence, 
and the judge in the last resort at her mistress's toilette, looked 
extremely out of humour at having been kept waiting so long ; 
and yet more so at the idea that her appellant jurisdiction could 
be disputed. 

' Your ladyship's taller than Miss Portman by half a head,' ■ 
said Marriott, * and to be sure will best become tragedy with 
this long train ; besides, I had settled all the rest of your lady- 
ship's dress. Tragedy, they say, is always tall ; and, no offence, 
your ladyship's taller than Miss Portman by half a head.' 

< For head read inch,' said Lady Delacour, * if you please.' 

*When things are settled, one can't bear to have them 
unsettled — but your ladyship must have your own way, to 
be sure — I'll say no more,' cried she, throwing down the 
dresses. 

' Stay, Marriott,' said Lady Delacour, and she placed herself 
between the angry waiting-maid and the door. 

* Why will you, who are the best creature in the world, put 
yourself into those ^n'es about nothing? Have patience with 
us, and you shall be satisfied.' 

* That's another affair,' said Marriott. 

* Miss Portman,' continued her ladyship, * don't talk of not 
having spirits, you that are all life ! — What say you, Belinda ? 
— Oh yes, you must be the comic muse ; and I, it seems, must 
be tragedy, because Marriott has a passion for seeing me " come 
sweeping by." And because Marriott must have her own way 
in everything — she rules me with a rod of iron, my dear, so 
tragedy I needs must be. — Marriott knows her power? 

There was an air of extreme vexation in Lady Delacour's 
countenance as she pronounced these last words, in which 
evidently more was meant than met the ear. Upon many 
occasions Miss Portman had observed, that Marriott exercised 
despotic authority over her mistress ; and she had seen, with 

15 






BELINDA 

surprise, that a lady, who would not yield an iota of power to 
her husband, submitted herself to every caprice of the most 
insolent of waiting-women. For some time, Belinda imagined 
that this submission was merely an air, as she had seen some 
other fine ladies proud of appearing to be governed by a favourite 
maid ; but she was soon convinced that Marriott was no favourite 
with Lady Delacour ; that her ladyship's was not proud humility^ 
but fear. It seemed certain that a woman, extravagantly fond 
of her own «////, would never have given it up without some very 
substantial reason. It seemed as if Marriott was in possession 
of some secret, which should for ever remain unknown. This 
idea had occurred to Miss Portman more than once, but never 
so forcibly as upon the present occasion. There had always 
been some mystery about her ladyship's toilette : at certain hours 
doors were bolted, and it was impossible for anybody but 
Marriott to obtain admission. Miss Portman at first imagined 
that Lady Delacour dreaded the discovery of her cosmetic 
secrets, but her ladyship's rouge was so glaring, and her pearl 
powder was so obvious, that Belinda was convinced there must 
be some other cause for this toilette secrecy. There was a 
little cabinet beyond her bedchamber, which Lady Delacour 
called her boudoir, to which there was an entrance by a back 
staircase ; but no one ever entered there but Marriott. One 
night, Lady Delacour, after dancing with great spirit at a ball, 
at her own house, fainted suddenly : Miss Portman attended 
her to her bedchamber, but Marriott begged that her lady 
might be left alone with her^ and she would by no means suffer 
Belinda to follow her into the boudoir. All these things Belinda 
recollected in the space of a few seconds, as she stood con- 
templating Marriott and the dresses. The hurry of getting 
ready for the masquerade, however, dispelled these thoughts, 
and by the time she was dressed, the idea of what Clarence 
Hervey would think of her appearance was uppermost in her 
mind. She was anxious to know whether he would discover 
her in the character of the comic muse. Lady Delacour was 
discontented with her tragic attire, and she grew still more out 
of humour with herself, when she saw Belinda. 

* I protest Marriott has made a perfect fright of me,' said 
her ladyship, as she got into her carriage, * and I'm positive 
my dress would become you a million of times better than your 



own.' 



i6 



MASKS 

Miss Portman regretted that it was too late to change. 

* Not at all too late, my dear,' said Lady Delacour ; * never 
too late for women to change their minds, their dress, or their 
lovers. Seriously, you know, we are to call at my friend Lady 
Singleton's — she sees masks to-night : I'm quite intimate there ; 
V\l make her let me step up to her own room, where no soul 
can interrupt us, and there we can change our dresses, and 
Marriott will know nothing of the matter. Marriott's a faithful 
creature, and very fond of me ; fond of power too — but who is 
not ? — we must all have our faults : one would not quarrel with 
such a good creature as Marriott for a trifle.' Then suddenly 
changing her tone, she said, ' Not a human being will find us 
out at the masquerade ; for no one but Mrs. Freke knows that 
we are the two muses. Clarence Hervey swears he should know 
me in any disguise — ^but I defy him — I shall take special delight 
in puzzling him. Harriot Freke has told him, in confidence, 
that I'm to be the widow Brady, in man's clothes : now that's 
to be Harriot's own character; so Hervey will make fine 
confusion.' 

As soon as they got to Lady Singleton's, Lady Delacour and 
Miss Portman immediately went upstairs to exchange dresses. 
Poor Belinda, now that she felt herself in spirits to undertake 
the comic muse, was rather vexed to be obliged to give up her 
becoming character ; but there was no resisting the polite energy 
of Lady Delacour's vanity. Her ladyship ran as quick as light- 
ning into a closet within the dressing-room, saying to Lady 
Singleton's woman, who attempted to follow with — * Can I do 
anything for your ladyship ? ' — * No, no, no — nothing, nothing 
— thank ye, thank ye, — I want no assistance — I never let any- 
body do anything for me but Marriott ; ' and she bolted her- 
self in the closet. In a few minutes she half opened the door, 
threw out her tragic robes, and cried, * Here, Miss Portman, 
give me yours — quick — and let's see whether comedy or tragedy 
will be ready first.' 

* Lord bless and forgive me,' said Lady Singleton's woman, 
when Lady Delacour at last threw open the door, when she was 
completely dressed — * but if your la'ship has not been dressing 
all this time in that den, without anything in the shape of a 
looking-glass, and not to let me help I I that should have been 
so proud.' 

Lady Delacour put half a guinea into the waiting-maid's 

c 17 



BELINDA 

hand, laughed affectedly at her own whimsicalities^ and declared 
that she could always dress herself better without a glass than 
with one. All this went off admirably well with everybody but 
Miss Portman ; she could not help thinking it extraordinary that 
a person who was obviously fond of being waited upon would 
never suffer any person to assist her at her toilette except 
Marriott, a woman of whom she was evidently afraid. Lady 
Delacour's quick eye saw curiosity painted in Belinda's counte- 
nance, and for a moment she was embarrassed : but she soon 
recovered herself, and endeavoured to turn the course of Miss 
Portman's thoughts by whispering to her some nonsense about 
Clarence Hervey — a cabalistical name, which she knew had the 
power, when pronounced in a certain tone, of throwing Belinda 
into confusion. 

The first person they saw when they went into the drawing- 
room at Lady Singleton's was this very Clarence Hervey, who 
was not in a masquerade dress. He had laid a wager with 
one of his acquaintance that he could perform the part of the 
serpent, such as he is seen in Fuseli's well-known picture. For 
this purpose he had exerted much ingenuity in the invention 
and execution of a length of coiled skin, which he manoeuvred 
with great dexterity by means of internal wires ; his grand 
difficulty had been to manufacture the rays that were to come 
from his eyes. He had contrived a set of phosphoric rays, 
which he was certain would charm all the fair daughters of 
Eve. He forgot, it seems, that phosphorus could not well be 
seen by candlelight. When he was just equipped as a serpent, 
his rays set fire to part of his envelope^ and it was with the 
greatest difficulty that he was extricated. He escaped unhurt, 
but his serpent's skin was utterly consumed ; nothing remained 
but the melancholy spectacle of its skeleton. He was obliged 
to give up the hopes of shining at the masquerade, but he 
resolved to be at Lady Singleton's that he might meet Lady 
Delacour and Miss Portman. The moment that the tragic 
and comic muse appeared, he invoked them with much humour 
and mock pathos, declaring that he knew not which of them 
could best sing his adventure. After a recital of his misfortune 
had entertained the company, and after the muses had performed 
their parts to the satisfaction of the audience and their own, the 
conversation ceased to be supported in masquerade character ; 
muses and harlequins, gipsies and Cleopatras, began to talk 

i8 



MASKS 

of their private affairs, and of the news and the scandal of 
the day. 

A group of gentlemen, amongst whom was Clarence Hervey, 
gathered round the tragic muse ; as Mr. Hervey had hinted that 
he knew she was a person of distinction, though he would not 
tell her name. After he had exercised his wit for some time, 
without obtaining from the tragic muse one single syllable, he 
whispered, * Lady Delacour, why this unnatural reserve ? Do 
you imagine that, through this tragical disguise, I have not 
found you out ? * 

The tragic muse, apparently absorbed in meditation, vouch- 
safed no reply. 

* The devil a word can you get for your pains, Hervey,' said 
a gentleman of his acquaintance, who joined the party at this 
instant. * Why didn't you stick to t'other muse, who, to do her 
justice, is as arrant a flirt as your heart could wish for ? ' 

* There's danger in flirting,' said Clarence, * with an arrant 
flirt of Mrs. Stanhope's training. There's a kind of electricity 
about that girl. I have a sort of cobweb feeling, an imaginary 
net coming all over me.' 

* Fore- warned is fore-armed,' replied his companion ; * a man 
must be a novice indeed that could be taken in at this time of 
day by a niece of Mrs. Stanhope's.' 

*That Mrs. Stanhope must be a good, clever dame, faith,' 
said a third gentleman : * there's no less than six of her nieces 
whom she has gv/ <?^ within these four winters — not one of 'em 
now that has not made a catch-match. — There's the eldest of 
the set, Mrs. Tollemache, what had she, in the devil's name, 
to set up with in the world but a pair of good eyes ? — her aunt, 
to be sure, taught her the use of them early enough : they might 
have rolled to all eternity before they would have rolled me out 
of my senses ; but you see they did ToUemache's business. 
However, they are going to part now, I hear : Tollemache was 
tired of her before the honeymoon was over, as I foretold. 
Then there's the musical girl. Joddrell, who has no more ear 
than a post, went and married her, because he had a mind to 
set up for a connoisseur in music ; and Mrs. Stanhope flattered 
him that he was one.' 

The gentlemen joined in the general laugh : the tragic muse 
sighed. 

*Even were she at the School for Scandal, the tragic 

19 



BELINDA 

muse dare not laugh, except behind her mask,' said Clarence 
Hervey. 

' Far be it from her to laugh at those follies which she must 
for ever deplore I * said Belinda, in a feigned voice. — * What 
miseries spring from these ill-suited marriages ! The victims 
are sacrificed before they have sense enough to avoid their 
fate.' 

Clarence Hervey imagined that this speech alluded to Lady 
Delacour's own marriage. 

* Damn me if I know any woman, young or old, that would 
avoid being married if she could, though,' cried Sir Philip 
Baddely, a gentleman who always supplied 'each vacuity of 
sense ' with an oath : * but, Rochfort, didn't Valleton marry one 
of these nieces ? ' 

* Yes : she was a mighty fine dancer, and had good legs 
enough : Mrs. Stanhope got poor Valleton to fight a duel 
about her place in a country dance, and then he was so pleased 
with himself for his prowess, that he married the girl.' 

Belinda made an effort to change her seat, but she was en- 
compassed so that she could not retreat. 

*As to Jenny Mason, the fifth of the nieces^ continued the 
witty gentleman, *she was as brown as mahogany, and had 
neither eyes, nose, mouth, nor legs : what Mrs. Stanhope could 
do with her I often wondered ; but she took courage, rouged 
her up, set her a-going as a dasher^ and she dashed herself 
into Tom Levit's curricle, and Tom couldn't get her out again 
till she was the honourable Mrs. Levit. She then took the 
reins into her own hands, and I hear she's driving him and 
herself the road to ruin as fast as they can gallop. As for 
this Belinda Portman, 'twas a good hit to send her to Lady 
Delacour's ; but, I take it she hangs upon hand ; for last winter, 
when I was at Bath, she was hawked about everywhere, and the 
aunt was puffing her with might and main. You heard of 
nothing, wherever you went, but of Belinda Portman, and 
Belinda Portman's accomplishments : Belinda Portman and 
her accomplishments, I'll swear, were as well advertised as 
Packwood's razor strops.' 

*Mrs. Stanhope overdid the business, I think,' resumed 
the gentleman who began the conversation, * girls brought 
to the hammer this way don't go off well. It's true, Christie 
himself is no match for dame Stanhope. Many of my 

20 



MASKS 

acquaintance were tempted to go and look at the premises, 
but not one, you may be sure, had a thought of becoming a 
tenant for life.' 

* That's an honour reserved for you, Clarence Hervey,' said 
another, tapping him upon the shoulder. — * Give ye joy, Hervey ; 
give ye joy ! ' 

* Me ! ' said Clarence, starting. 

< m be hanged if he didn't change colour,' said his facetious 
companion, and all the young men again joined in a laugh. 

* Laugh on, my merry men all ! ' cried Clarence ; * but the 
devil's in it if I don't know my own mind better than any of 
you. You don't imagine I go to Lady Delacour's to look for 
a wifef — Belinda Portman's a good, pretty girl, but what 
then ? Do you think I'm an idiot ? — do you think I could be 
taken in by one of the Stanhope school? Do you think I 
don't see as plainly as any of you that Belinda Portman's a 
composition of art and affectation ? ' 

* Hush — not so loud, Clarence ; here she comes,' said his 
companion. * The comic muse, is not she ? ' 

Lady Delacour, at this moment, came lightly tripping towards 
them, and addressing herself, in the character of the comic muse, 
to Hervey, exclaimed — 

* Hervey ! my Hervey ! most favoured of my votaries, why 
do you forsake me 

* Why mourns my friend, why weeps his downcast eye ? 
That eye where mirth and ^ncy used to shine. 

Though you have lost your serpent's form, yet you may please 
any of the fair daughters of Eve in your own.' 

Mr. Hervey bowed ; all the gentlemen who stood near him 
smiled ; the tragic muse gave an involuntary sigh. 

* Could I borrow a sigh, or a tear, from my tragic sister,' 
pursued Lady Delacour, * however unbecoming to my character, 
I would, if only sighs or tears can win the heart of Clarence 
Hervey : — let me practise ' — and her ladyship practised sighing 
with much comic effect. 

* Persuasive words and more persuasive sighs/ 

said Clarence Hervey. 

*A good bold Stanhope cast of the net, faith,' whispered 
one of his companions, * Melpomene, hast thou forgot thyself 

21 



BELINDA 

to marble ? * pursued Lady Delacour. * I am not very well,' 
whispered Miss Portman to her ladyship : * could we get 
away ? ' 

* Get away from Clarence Hervey, do you mean ? ' replied 
her ladyship, in a whisper ; * 'tis not easy, but well try what 
can be done, if it is necessary.' 

Belinda had no power to reply to this raillery ; indeed, she 
scarcely heard the words that were said to her ; but she put 
her arm within Lady Delacour's, who, to her great relief, had 
the good nature to leave the room with her immediately. Her 
ladyship, though she would sacrifice the feelings of others, with- 
out compunction, to her vanity, whenever the power of her wit 
was disputed, yet towards those by whom it was acknowledged 
she showed some mercy. 

* What is the matter with the child ? ' said she, as she went 
down the staircase. 

* Nothing, if I could have air,' said Belinda. There was a 
crowd of servants in the hall. 

*Why does Lady Delacour avoid me so pertinaciously? 
What crime have I committed, that I was not favoured with 
one word ? ' said Clarence Hervey, who had followed them 
downstairs, and overtook them in the hall. 

* Do see if you can find any of my people,' cried Lady 
Delacour. 

* Lady Delacour, the comic muse ! ' exclaimed Mr. Hervey. 

* I thought ' 

* No matter what you thought,' interrupted her ladyship. 

* Let my carriage draw up, for here's a young friend of yours 
trembling so about nothings that I am half afraid she will faint ; 
and you know it would not be so pleasant to faint here amongst 
footmen. Stay ! this room is empty. Oh, I did not mean to 
tell you to stay,' said she to Hervey, who involuntarily followed 
her in the utmost consternation. 

* I'm perfectly well, now — perfectly well,' said Belinda. 

* Perfectly a simpleton, I think,' said Lady Delacour. *Nay, 
my dear, you must be ruled; your mask must come off: didn't 
you tell me you wanted air ? — What now ! This is not the 
first time Clarence Hervey has ever seen your face without a 
mask, is it 1 It's the first time indeed he, or anybody else, 
ever saw it of such a colour, I believe.' 

When Lady Delacour pulled off Belinda's mask, her face 

22 



was, during the first instant, pale ; the next moment, crimsoned 
over with a burning blush. 

' What is the matter with ye both ? How he stands ! ' said 
Lady Delacour, turning to Mr. Hervey. ' Did you never see 
a woman blush before ? — or did you never say or do anything 
to make a woman blush before ? Will you give Miss Portman 
a glass of water ? — there's some behind you on that sideboard, 
man ! — but he has neither eyes, ears, nor understanding. — Do 
go about your business,' said her ladyship, pushing him to- 
wards the door — ■ Do go about your business, for I haven't 
common patience with you : on my conscience I believe the 
man's in love — and not with me I That's sal-volatile for you, 
child, I perceive,' continued she to Belinda. 'Oh, you can walk 
now — but remember you are on slippery ground : remember 
Clarence Hervey is not a marrying man, and you are not a 
married woman.' 

' It is perfectly indifferent to me, madam,' Belinda said, 
with a voice and look of proud indignation. 

'Lady Delacour, your carriage has drawn up,' said Clarence 
Hervey, returning to the door, but without entering. 

'Then put this "perfectly well" and "perfectly indifferent" 
lady into it,' said Lady Delacour. 

He obeyed without uttering a. syllable. 

' Dumb ! absolutely dumb ! I protest,' said her ladyship, as 
he handed her in afterwards, ' Why, Clarence, the casting of 
your serpent's skin seems to have quite changed your nature — 
nothing but the simplicity of the dove left ; and I expect to 
hear you cooing presently — don't you, Miss Portman ?' She 
ordered the coachman to drive to the Pantheon, 

' To the Pantheon I I was in hopes your ladyship would 
have the goodness to set me down at home ; for indeed I shall 
be a burden to you and everybody else at the masquerade.' 

' If you have made any appointment for the rest of the 
evening in Berkley Square, I'll set you down, certainly, if you 
insist upon it, my dear — for punctuality is a virtue ; but 
prudence is a virtue too, in a young lady ; who, as your aunt 
Stanhope would say, has to establish herself in the world. 
Why these tears, Belinda ? — or are they tears ? for by the light 
of the lamps I can scarcely tell ; though I'll swear I saw the 
handkerchief at the eyes. What is the meaning of all this ? 
You'd best trust me — for I know as much of men and manners 
23 



MASKS 

as your aunt Stanhope at least ; and in one word, you have 
nothing to fear from me, and everything to hope from yourself, 
if you will only dry up your tears, keep on your mask, and take" 
my advice ; you'll find it as good as your aunt Stanhope's.' 

* My aunt Stanhope's ! Oh,' cried Belinda, * never, never 
more will I take such advice ; never more will I expose myself 
to be insulted as a female adventurer. — Little did I know in what 
a light I appeared ; little did I know what gentlemen thought 
of my aunt Stanhope, of my cousins, of myself ! ' 

* Gentlemen / I presume Clarence Hervey stands at this 
instant, in your imagination, as the representative of all the 
gentlemen in England ; and he, instead of Anacharsis Cloots, 
is now, to be sure, Porateur du genre humain. Pray let me 
have a specimen of the eloquence, which, to judge by its effects, 
must be powerful indeed.' 

Miss Portman, not without some reluctance, repeated the 
conversation which she had heard. — * And is this all ? ' cried 
Lady Delacour. *Lord, my dear, you must either give up 
living in the world, or expect to hear yourself, and your aunts, 
and your cousins, and your friends, from generation to genera- 
tion, abused every hour in the day by their friends and your 
friends ; 'tis the common course of things. Now you know 
what a multitude of obedient humble servants, dear creatures, 
and very sincere and most affectionate friends, I have in my 
writing-desk, and on my mantelpiece, not to mention the cards 
which crowd the common rack from intimate acquaintance, 
who cannot live without the honour, or favour, or pleasure of 
seeing Lady Delacour twice a week ; — do you think I'm fool 
enough to imagine that they would care the hundredth part of 
a straw if I were this minute thrown into the Red or the Black 
Sea ? — No, I have not one real friend in the world except 
Harriot Freke ; yet, you see I am the comic muse, and mean 
to keep it up — keep it up to the last — on purpose to provoke 
those who would give their eyes to be able to pity me ; — I 
humbly thank them, no pity for Lady Delacour. Follow my 
example, Belinda ; elbow your way through the crowd : if you 
stop to be civil and beg pardon, and ^^ hope I didtit hurt ye,^ 
you will be trod under foot. Now you'll meet those young 
men continually who took the liberty of laughing at your aunt, 
and your cousins, and yourself; they are men of fashion. 
Show them you've no feeling, and they'll acknowledge you for 

25 



BELINDA 

a woman of fashion. You'll marry better than any of your 
cousins, — Clarence Hervey if you can ; and then it will be 
your turn to laugh about nets and cages. As to love and all 
that ' 

The carriage stopped at the Pantheon just as her ladyship 
came to the words * love and all that.' Her thoughts took a 
different turn, and during the remainder of the night she 
exhibited, in such a manner as to attract universal admiration, 
all the ease, and grace, and gaiety, of Euphrosyne. 

To Belinda the night appeared long and dull : the common- 
place wit of chimney-sweepers and gipsies, the antics of harle- 
quins, the graces of flower-girls and Cleopatras, had not power 
to amuse her ; for her thoughts still recurred to that conversa- 
tion which had given her so much pain — a pain which Lady 
Delacour's raillery had failed to obliterate. 

* How happy you are. Lady Delacour,* said she, when they 
got into the carriage to go home ; * how happy you are to have 
such an amazing flow of spirits ! ' 

* Amazing you might well say, if you knew all,' said Lady 
Delacour ; and she heaved a deep sigh, threw herself back in 
the carriage, let fall her mask, and was silent. It was broad 
daylight, and Belinda had a full view of her countenance, which 
was the picture of despair. She uttered not one syllable more, 
nor had Miss Portman the courage to interrupt her meditations 
till they came within sight of Lady Singleton's, when Belinda 
ventured to remind her that she had resolved to stop there and 
change dresses before Marriott saw them. 

* No, if s no matter,' said Lady Delacour ; * Marriott will 
leave me at the last, like all the rest — 'tis no matter.' Her 
ladyship sunk back into her former attitude ; but afler she 
had remained silent for some minutes, she started up and 
exclaimed — 

* If I had served myself with half the zeal that I have 
served the world, I should not now be thus forsaken ! I have 
sacrificed reputation, happiness, everything to the love of frolic : 

- - - — all frolic will soon be at an end with me — I am dying — and 
I shall die unlamented by any human being. If I were to live 
my life over again, what a different life it should be ! — What a 
different person / would be ^ ! — But it is all over now — I am 
c . dying.' 
^ * ^ This declaration was taken from the lips of a celebrated character, 

^^ ' ^' 26 



. I' 



^^• 



MASKS 

Belinda's astonishment at these words, and at the solemn 
numner in which they were pronounced, was inexpressible ; 
she gazed at Lady Delacour, and then repeated the word, — 
* dying ! ' — * Yes, dying ! ' said Lady Delacour. 

* But you seem to me, and to all the world, in perfect health ; 
and but half an hour ago in perfect spirits,' said Belinda. 

* I seem to you and to all the world, what I am not — I tell 
you I am dying,' said her ladyship, in an emphatic tone. 

Not a word more passed till they got home. Lady Dela- 
cour hurried upstairs, bidding Belinda follow her to her dress- 
ing-room. Marriott was lighting the six wax candles on the 
dressing-table. — *As I live, they have changed dresses after 
all,' said Marriott to herself, as she fixed her eyes upon Lady 
Delacour and Miss Portman. * I'll be burnt, if I don't make 
my lady remember this,' 

* Marriott, you need not wait ; I'll ring when I want you,' 
said Lady Delacour ; and taking one of the candles from the 
table, she passed on hastily with Miss Portman through her 
dressing-room, through her bedchamber, and to the door of 
the mysterious cabinet. 

* Marriott, the key of this door,' cried she impatiently, after 
she had in vain attempted to open it. 

* Heavenly graciousness I ' cried Marriott ; * is my lady out 
of her senses ? ' 

*The key — the key — quick, the key,' repeated Lady Dela- 
cour, in a peremptory tone. She seized it as soon as Marriott 
drew it from her pocket, and unlocked the door. 

* Had not I best put the things to rights, my lady ? ' said 
Marriott, catching fast hold of the opening door. 

* I'll ring when you are wanted, Marriott,' said Lady Dela- 
cour; and pushing open the door with violence she rushed 
forward to the middle of the room, and turning back, she 
beckoned to Belinda to follow her — * Come in ; what is it you 
are afraid of ? ' said she. Belinda went on, and the moment 
she was in the room. Lady Delacour shut and locked the door. 
The room was rather dark, as there was no light in it except 
what came from the candle which Lady Delacour held in her 
hand, and which burned but dimly. Belinda, as she looked 
round, saw nothing but a confusion of linen rags ; vials, some 
empty, some full, and she perceived that there was a strong 
smell of medicines. 

27 



vv 



..y({ - ifO^'i r.pi-u^ <^ ''^^^<''' 



BELINDA 



Lady Delacour, whose motions were all precipitate, like 
those of a person whose mind is in great agitation, looked 
from side to side of the room, without seeming to know what 
she was in search of. She then, with a species of fury, wiped 
the paint from her face, and returning to Belinda, held the 
candle so as to throw the light full upon her livid features. 
Her eyes were sunk, her cheeks hollow ; no trace of youth or 
beauty remained on her death-like countenance, which formed 
a horrid contrast with her gay fantastic dress. 

* You are shocked, Belinda,* said she ; * but as yet you have 
seen nothing — look here,' — ^and baring one half of her bosom, 
she revealed a. hideous spectacle. 

Belinda sunk back into a chair ; Lady Delacour flung her- 
self on her knees before her. 

* Am I humbled, am I wretched enough ? ' cried she, her 
voice trembling with agony. * Yes, pity me for what you have 
seen, and a thousand times more for that which you cannot 
see : — my mind is eaten away like my body by incurable 
disease — inveterate remorse — remorse for a life of folly — of 
folly which has brought on me all the punishments of guilt. 

*My husband,' continued she, and her voice suddenly 
altered from the tone of grief to that of anger — * my husband 
hates me — no matter — I despise him. His relations hate me 
— no matter — I despise them. My own relations hate me — 
no matter, I never wish to see them more — never shall they 
see my sorrow — never shall they hear a complaint, a sigh from 
me. There is no torture which I could not more easily endure 
than their insulting pity. I will die, as I have lived, the envy 
and admiration of the world. When I am gone, let them find 
^^ out their mistake ; and moralise, if they will, over my grave.' 
She paused. Belinda had no power to speak. 

* Promise, swear to me,' resumed Lady Delacour vehemently, 
seizing Belinda's hand, *that you will never reveal to any 
mortal what you have seen and heard this night. No living ' 
creature suspects that Lady Delacour is dying by inches, y 
except Marriott and that woman whom but a few hours ago I 
thought my real friend^ to whom I trusted every secret of my 
life, every thought of my heart. Fool ! idiot 1 dupe that I was 
to trust to the friendship of a woman whom I knew to be 
without principle : but I thought she had honour ; I thought 
she could never betray me, — O Harriot ! Harriot I you to 

28 



0'^^ 



r 



desert me ! — Anything else I could have borne — but you, who 
I thought would have supported me in the tortures of mind 
and body which I am to go through — you that I thought 
would receive my last breath — you to desert me ! — Now I am 



alone in the world — left to the mercy of an insolent waiting- 
Lady Delacour hid her fece in Belinda's lap, and almost 
stifled by the violence of contending emotions, she at last gave 
vent to them, and sobbed aloud. 



BELINDA 

* Trust to one/ said Belinda, pressing her hand, with all 
the tenderness which humanity could dictate, * who will never 
leave you at the mercy of an insolent waiting-woman — trust to 
me.* 

* Trust to you ! ' said Lady Delacour, looking up eagerly in 
Belinda's face ; * yes — I think — I may trust to you ; for though 
a niece of Mrs. Stanhope's, I have seen this day, and have 
seen with surprise, symptoms of artless feeling about you. 
This was what tempted me to open my mind to you when I 
found that I had lost the only friend — ^but I will think no more 
of that — if you have a heart, you must feel for me. — Leave me 
now — to-morrow you shall hear my whole history — now I am 
quite exhausted — ring for Marriott.' Marriott appeared with 
a face of constrained civility and latent rage. * Put me to bed, 
Marriott,' said Lady Delacour, with a subdued voice ; * but 
first light Miss Portman to her room — she need not — yet — see 
the horrid business of my toilette.' 

Belinda, when she was left alone, immediately opened her 
shutters, and threw up the sash, to refresh herself with the 
morning air. She felt excessively fatigued, and in the hurry 
of her mind she could not think of anything distinctly. She 
took off her masquerade dress, and went to bed in hopes of 
forgetting, for a few hours, what she felt indelibly impressed 
upon her imagination. But it was in vain that she endeavoured 
to compose herself to sleep ; her ideas were in too great and 
painful confusion. For some time, whenever she closed her 
eyes, the face and form of Lady Delacour, such as she had 
just beheld them, seemed to haunt her ; afterwards, the idea 
of Clarence Hervey, and the painful recollection of the con- 
versation she had overheard, recurred to her : the words, * Do 
you think I don't know that Belinda Portman is a composition 
of art and affectation ? ' were fixed in her memory. She re- 
collected with the utmost minuteness every look of contempt 
which she had seen in the faces of the young men whilst they 
spoke of Mrs. Stanhope, the match-maker. Belinda's mind, 
however, was not yet sufficiently calm to reflect ; she seemed 
only to live over again the preceding night. At last, the 
strange motley figures which she had seen at the masquerade 
flitted before her eyes, and she sunk into an uneasy slumber. 



30 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 



CHAPTER III 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 



Miss Portman was awakened by the ringing of Lady Dela- 
cour's bedchamber bell. She opened her eyes with the con- 
fused idea that something disagreeable had happened ; and 
before she had distinctly recollected herself, Marriott came to 
her bedside, with a note from Lady Delacour ; it was written 
with a pencil. 

* Delacour — my lord ! ! ! ! is to have to-day what Garrick 
used to call 2i gander feast — will you dine with me iite-drtite^ and 
I'll write an excuse ^ alias a lie, to Lady Singleton, in the form 
of a charming note — I pique myself sur ^^loquence du billet 
— ^then we shall have the evening to ourselves. I have much 
to say, as people usually have when they begin to talk of 
themselves. 

' I have taken a double dose of opium, and am not so 
horribly out of spirits as I was last night ; so you need not be 
afraid of another scene. 

* Let me see you in my dressing-room, dear Belinda, as soon 
as you have adored 

* With head uncover'd the cosmetic powers. 

But you don't paint — no matter — you will — ^you must — every- 
body must, sooner or later. In the meantime, whenever you 
want to send a note that shall not be opened by the bearer^ put 
your trust neither in wafer nor wax, but twist it as I twist 
mine. You see I wish to put you in possession of some valu- 
able secrets before I leave this world — this, by the bye, I don't, 
upon second thoughts, which are always best, mean to do yet. 
There certainly were such people as Amazons — I hope you 
admire them — for who could live without the admiration of 
Belinda Portman ? — not Clarence Hervey assuredly — nor yet 

*T. C. H. Delacour.' 

Belinda obeyed the summons to her ladyship's dressing- 
room : she found Lady Delacour with her face completely 

31 






i<'-/' 



'1 



BELINDA 

'^repaired with paint, and her spirits with opium. She was in 
high consultation with Marriott and Mrs. Franks, the milliner, 
about the crape petticoat of her birthnight dress, which was 
extended over a large hoop in full state. Mrs. Franks des- 
canted long and learnedly upon festoons and loops, knots and 
fringes, submitting all the time everything to her ladyship's 
better judgment. 

Marriott was sulky and silent. She opened her lips but 
once upon the question of laburnum or no laburnum flowers. 

Against them she quoted the memoirs and authority of the 
celebrated Mrs. Bellamy, who has a case in point to prove 
that * straw colour must ever look like dirty white by candle- 
light.' Mrs. Franks, to compromise the matter, proposed 
gold laburnums, * because nothing can look better by candle- 
light, or any light, than gold ; ' and Lady Delacour, who was 
afraid that the milliner's imagination, now that it had once 
touched upon gold, might be led to the vulgar idea of ready 
money^ suddenly broke up the conference, by exclaiming — 

* We shall be late at Phillips's exhibition of French china. 
Mrs. Franks must let us see her again to-morrow, to take 
into consideration your court dress, my dear Belinda — " Miss 
Portman presented by Lady Delacour" — Mrs. Franks, let her 
dress, for heaven's sake, be something that will make a fine 
paragraph : — I give you four-and-twenty hours to think of it. 
I have done a horrid act this day,' continued she, after Mrs. 
Franks had left the room — * absolutely written a twisted note 
to Clarence Hervey, my dear — but why did I tell you that ? 
Now your head will run upon the twisted note all day, instead 

\ of upon "The Life and Opinions of a Lady of Quality, related 

('by herself."' 

After dinner Lady Delacour having made Belinda protest 
and blush, and blush and protest, that her head was not 
running upon the twisted note, began the history of her life 
and opinions in the following manner :-— 

* I do nothing by halves, my dear. I shall not tell you my 
adventures as Gil Bias told his to the Count d'Olivarez — 
skipping over the useful passages. I am no hypocrite, and 
have nothing worse than folly to conceal : that's bad enough — 
for a woman who is known to play the fool is always suspected 
of playing the devil. But I begin where I ought to end — with 
my moral, which I daresay you are not impatient to anticipate. 

32 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

I never read or listened to a moral at the end of a story in my 
life : — manners for me, and morals for those that like them. 
My dear, you will be woefully disappointed if in my story you 
expect anything like a novel. I once heard a general say that 
nothing was less like a review than a battle ; and I can tell 
you that nothing is more unlike a novel than real life. Of all 
lives, mine has been the least romantic. No love in it, but a 
great deal of hate. I was a rich heiress — I had, I believe, a 
hundred thousand pounds, or more, and twice as many caprices : 
I was handsome and witty — or, to speak with that kind of 
circumlocution which is called humility, the world, the partial 
world, thought me a beauty and a bel esprit. Having told you 
my fortune, need I add, that I, or it, had lovers in abundance — 
of all sorts and degrees — not to reckon those, it may be pre- 
sumed, who died of concealed passions for me ? I had sixteen 
declarations and proposals in form ; then what in the name of 
wonder, or of common sense — which by the bye is the greatest 
of wonders — what, in the name of common sense, made me 
marry Lord Delacour ? Why, my dear, you — no, not youy but 
any girl who is not used to have a parcel of admirers, would 
think it the easiest thing in the world to make her choice ; but 
let her judge by what she feels when a dexterous mercer or 
linen-draper produces pretty thing after pretty thing — and this 
is so becoming, and this will wear for ever, as he swears ; but 
then that's so fashionable ; — the novice stands in a charming 
perplexity, and after examining, and doubting, and tossing 
over half the goods in the shop, it's ten to one, when it begins 
to get late, the young lady, in a hurry, pitches upon the very 
ugliest and worst thing that she has seen. Just so it was with 
me and my lovers, and just so — 

' Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day, 

I pitched upon Viscount Delacour for my lord and judge. 
He had just at that time lost at Newmarket more than he was 
worth in every sense of the word ; and my fortune was the 
most convenient thing in the world to a man in his condition. 
Lozenges are of sovereign use in some complaints. The heiress 
lozenge is a specific in some consumptions. You are surprised 
that I can laugh and jest about such a melancholy thing as my 
marriage with Lord Delacour ; and so am I, especially when I 
recollect all the circumstances ; for though I bragged of there 

15 33 



\ 



BELINDA 

being no love in my history, there was when I was a goose or a 
gosling of about eighteen — just your age, Belinda, I think — 
something very like love playing about my heart, or my head. 
There was a certain Henry Percival, a Clarence Hervey of a 
man — no, he had ten times the sense, begging your pardon, of 
Clarence Hervey — his misfortune, or mine, was, that he had 
too much sense — he was in love with me, but not with my 
faults ; now I, wisely considering that my faults were the 
greatest part of me, insisted upon his being in love with my 
faults. He wouldn't, or couldn't — I said wouldn't, he said 
couldn't. I had been used to see the men about me lick the 
dust at my feet, for it was gold dust. Percival made wry faces 
— Lord Delacour made none. I pointed him out to Percival 
as an example — it was an example he would not follow. I 
was provoked, and I married in hopes of provoking the man I 
loved. The worst of it was, I did not provoke him as much 
as I expected. Six months afterwards I heard of his marriage 
with a very amiable woman. I hate those very amiable women. 
Poor Percival ! I should have been a very happy woman, I 
fancy, if I had married you — for I believe you were the only 
man who ever really loved me ; but all that is over now I — 
Where were we ? Oh, I married my Lord Delacour, knowing 
him to be a fool, and believing that, for this reason, I should 
find no trouble in governing him. But what a fatal mistake ! 
— a fool, of all animals in the creation, is the most difficult to 
govern. We set out in the fashionable world with a mutual 
desire to be as extravagant as possible. Strange, that with 
this similarity of taste we could never agree ! — strange, that 
this similarity of taste was the cause of our perpetual quarrels ! 
During the first year of our marriage, I had always the upper 
. hand in these disputes, and the last word ; and I was content. 
Stubborn as the brute was, I thought I should in time break 
him in. From the specimens you have seen, you may guess 
that I was even then a tolerable proficient in the dear art of 
tormenting, I had almost gained my point, just broken my 
lord's heart, when one fair morning I unluckily told his man 
Champfort that he knew no more how to cut hair than a sheep- 
shearer. Champfort, who is conceit personified, took mortal 
offence at this ; and the devil, who is always at hand to turn 
anger into malice, put it into Champfort's head to put it into 
my lord's head, that the world thought — " My lady governed 

34 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

him,^^ My lord took fire. They say the torpedo, the coldest 
of cold creatures, sometimes gives out a spark — I suppose 
when electrified with anger. The next time that innocent I 
insisted upon my Lord Delacour's doing or not doing — I 
forget which — the most reasonable thing in the world, my lord 
turns short round, and answers — ** My Lady Delacour, I am 
not a man to be governed by a wife." — ^And from that time to 
this the words, " I am not a man to be governed by a wife," 
have been written in his obstinate face, as all the world who 
can read the human countenance may see. My dear, I laugh ; 
but even in the midst of laughter there is sadness. But you 
don't know what it is — I hope you never may — to have an 
obstinate fool for a bosom friend. 

* I at first flattered myself that my lord's was not an in- 
veterate, incurable nxalady : but from his obvious weakness, I 
might have seen that there was no hope ; for cases of obstinacy 
are always dangerous in proportion to the weakness of the*' 
patient. My lord's case was desperate. Kill or cure was my 
humane or prudent maxim. I determined to try the poison of 
jealousy, by way of an alternative. I had long kept it in petto 
as my ultimate remedy. I fixed upon a proper subject — a man 
with whom I thought that I could coquette to all eternity, 
without any danger to myself — a certain Colonel Lawless, as 
empty a coxcomb as you would wish to see. The world, said 

I to myself, can never be so absurd as to suspect Lady 
Delacour with such a man as this, though her lord may, and 
will ; for nothing is too absurd for him to believe. Half my 
theory proved just ; that is saying a great deal for any theory. 
My lord swallowed the remedy that I had prepared for him 
with an avidity and a bonhomie which it did me good to 
behold; my remedy operated beyond my most sanguine expecta- 
tions. The poor man was cured of his obstinacy, and became 
stark mad with jealousy. Then indeed I had some hopes of 
him ; for a madman can be managed, a fool cannot. In a month's 
time I made him quite docile. With a face longer than the 
weeping philosopher's, he came to me one morning, and assured 
me, " he would do everything I pleased, provided I would con- 
sult my own honour and his, and give up Colonel Lawless." 

* " Give up ! " — I could hardly forbear laughing at the 
expression. I replied, "that as long as my lord treated me 
with becoming respect, I had never in thought or deed given 

35 



'ityLadf DtiaatiT,! aiKiu)taina»tgbtgi>viratdb:^a'aift: 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

him just cause of complaint ; but that I was not a woman to 
be insulted, or to be kept, as I had hitherto been, in leading- 
strings by a husband." My lord, flattered as I meant he 
should be with the idea that it was possible he should be 
suspected of keeping a wife in leading-strings, fell to making 
protestations — " He hoped his future conduct would prove," 
etg. Upon this hint I gave the reins to my imagination, and 
full drive I went into a fresh career of extravagance : if I were 
checked, it was an insult^ and I began directly to talk of 
leading 'Strings, This ridiculous game I played successfully 
enough for some time, till at length, though naturally rather 
slow at calculation, he actually discovered that if we lived at 
the rate of twenty thousand a year, and had only ten thousand 
a year to spend, we should in due time have nothing left. 
This notable discovery he communicated to me one morning, 
after a long preamble. When he had finished prosing, I 
agreed that it was demonstrably just that he should retrench 
his expenses ; but that it was equally unjust and impossible 
that I could make any reformation in my civil list : that 
economy was a word which I had never heard of in my life 
till I married his lordship ; that, upon second recollection, it 
was true I had heard of such a thing as national economy, 
and that it would be a very pretty, though rather hackneyed 
topic of declamation for a maiden speech in the House of 
Lords. I therefore advised him to reserve all he had to say 
upon the subject for the noble lord upon the woolsack ; nay, I 
very graciously added, that upon this condition I would go to 
the house myself to give his arguments and eloquence a fair 
hearing, and that I would do my best to keep myself awake. 
This was all mighty playful and witty ; but it happened that 
my Lord Delacour, who never had any great taste for wit, 
could not this unlucky morning at all relish it. Of course I 
grew angry, and reminded him, with an indelicacy which his 
want of generosity justified, that an heiress, who had brought 
a hundred thousand pounds into his family, had some right to 
amuse herself, and that it was not my fault if elegant amuse- 
ments were more expensive than others. 

* Then came a long criminating and recriminating chapter. 
It was " My lord, your Newmarket blunders " — " My lady, 
your cursed theatricals " — " My lord, I have surely a right " — 
and, " My lady, I have surely as good a right." 

3V 



BELINDA 

* But, my dear Belinda, however we might pay one another, 
we could not pay all the world with words. In short, after 
running through thousands and tens of thousands, we were 
actually in distress for money. Then came selling of lands, 
and I don^t know what devices for raising money, according to 
the modes of lawyers and attorneys. It was quite indifferent 
to me how they got money, provided they did get it. By 
what art these gentlemen raised money, I never troubled 
myself to inquire ; it might have been the black art, for 
anything I know to the contrary. I know nothing of business. 
So I signed all the papers they brought to me ; and I was 
mighty well pleased to find, that by so easy an expedient as 
writing " T. C. H. Delacour," I could command money at will. 
I signed, and signed, till at last I was with all due civility 
informed that my signature was no longer worth a farthing ; 
and when I came to inquire into the cause of this phenomenon, 
I could nowise understand what my Lord Delacour's la^^yer 
said to me ; he was a prig, and I had not patience either to 
listen to him or to look at him. I sent for an old uncle of 
mine, who used to manage all my money matters before I was 
married : I put the uncle and the lawyer into a room, together 
with their parchments, to fight the matter out, or to come to a 
right understanding if they could. The last, it seems, was 
quite impossible. In the course of half an hour, out comes 
my uncle in such a rage ! I never shall forget his face — all 
the bile in his body had gotten into it ; he had literally no 

. whites to his eyes. " My dear uncle," said I, " what is the 
matter ? Why, you are absolutely gold stick in waiting." 

* " No matter what I am, child," said the uncle ; " I'll tell 
you what you are, with all your wit — a dupe : 'tis a shame for 
a woman of your sense to be such a fool, and to know nothing 
of business ; and if you knew nothing yourself, could not you 
send for me ? " 

* " I was too ignorant to know that I know nothing," said 
I. But I will not trouble you with all the said Vs and said 
he's. I was made to understand, that if Lord Delacour were 
to die the next day, I should live a beggar. Upon this I grew 
serious, as you may imagine. My uncle assured me that I 
had been grossly imposed upon by my lord and his lawyer ; 
and that I had been swindled out of my senses, and out of my 
dower. I repeated all that my uncle said, very faithfully, to 

38 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

Lord Delacour; and all that either he or his lawyer could 
furnish out by way of answer was, that " Necessity had no law." 
Necessity, it must be allowed, though it might be the mother 
of law, was never with my lord the mother of invention. 
Having now found out that I had a good right to complain, I 
indulged myself in it most gloriously ; in short, my dear, we 
had a comfortable family quarrel. Love quarrels are easily 
made up, but of money quarrels there is no end. From the 
moment these money quarrels commenced, I began to hate 
Lord Delacour; before, I had only despised him. You can 
have no notion to what meanness extravagance reduces men. 
I have known Lord Delacour shirk, and look so shabby, and 
tell so many lies to people about a hundred guineas — a hundred 
guineas ! — what do I say ? — about twenty, ten, five ! Oh, my 
dear, I cannot bear the thoughts of it ! 

* But I was going on to tell you, that my good uncle and all 
my relations quarrelled with me for having ruined myself, as 
they said ; but I said they quarrelled with me for fear I should 
ask them for some of their ^^vile trashP Accordingly, I 
abused and ridiculed them, one and all ; and for my pains, 
all my acquaintance said, that " Lady Delacour was a woman 
of a vast deal of spirit.'* 

* We were relieved from our money embarrassments by the 
timely death of a rich nobleman, to whose large estate my 
Lord Delacour was heir-at-law. I was intoxicated with the 
idle compliments of all my acquaintance, and I endeavoured 
to console myself for misery at home by gaiety abroad. 
Ambitious of pleasing universally, I became the worst of 
slaves — a slave to the world. Not a moment of my time was 
at my own disposal — not one of my actions ; I may say, not 
one of my thoughts was my own ; I was obliged to find things 
" charming " every hour, which tired me to death ; and every 
day it was the same dull round of hypocrisy and dissipation. 
You wonder to hear me speak in this manner, Belinda — but 
one must speak the truth sometimes ; and this is what I have 
been saying to Harriot Freke continually, for these ten years 
past. Then why persist in the same kind of life ? you say. 
Why, my dear, because I could not stop : I was fit for this 
kind of life and for no other : I could not be happy at home; 
for what sort of a companion could I have made of Lord 
Delacour ? By this time he was tired of his horse Potatoe, 

39 



BELINDA 

and his horse Highflyer, and his horse Eclipse, and Goliah, 
and Jenny Grey, etc. ; and he had taken to hard drinking, 
which soon turned him, as you see, quite into a beast. 

* I forgot to tell you that I had three children during the 
first five years of my marriage. The first was a boy : he was 
bom dead ; and my lord, and all his odious relations, laid the 
blame upon me, because I would not be kept prisoner half a 
year by an old mother of his, a vile Cassandra, who was 
always prophesying that my child would not be bom alive. 
, My second child was a girl ; but a poor diminutive, sickly 
thing. It was the fashion at this time for fine mothers to 
suckle their own children : so much the worse for the poor 
brats. Fine nurses never made fine children. There was a 
prodigious rout made about the matter; a vast deal of 
sentiment and sympathy, and compliments and inquiries ; 
but after the novelty was over, I became heartily sick of the 
business ; and at the end of about three months my poor 
child was sick too — I don't much like to think of it — it died. 
If I had put it out to nurse, I should have been thought by 
my friends an unnatural mother ; but I should have saved its 
life. I should have bewailed the loss of the infant more, if 
Lord Delacour's relations and my own had not made such 
lamentations upon the occasion that I was stunned. I couldn't 
or wouldn't shed a tear ; and I left it to the old dowager to 
perform in public, as she wished, the part of chief mourner, and 
to comfort herself in private by lifting up her hands and eyes, 
and railing at me as the most insensible of mothers. All this 
time I suffered more than she did ; but that is what she shall 
never have the satisfaction of knowing. I determined, that if 
ever I had another child, I would not have the barbarity to 
nurse it myself Accordingly when my third child, a girl, was 
bom, I sent it off immediately to the country, to a stout, 
healthy, broad-faced nurse, under whose care it grew and 
flourished ; so that at three years old, when it was brought 
back to me, I could scarcely believe the chubby little thing 
was my own child. The same reasons which convinced me I 
ought not to nurse my own child, determined me, d plus forte 
raison^ not to undertake its education. Lord Delacour could 
not bear the child, because it was not a boy. The girl was 
put under the care of a governess, who plagued my heart out 
with her airs and tracasseries for three or four years ; at the 

40 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

end of which time, as she turned out to be Lord Delacour*s 
mistress in form, I was obliged — in form — to beg she would 
leave my house : and I put her pupil into better hands, I hope, 
at a celebrated academy for young ladies. There she will, at 
any rate, be better instructed than she could be at home. I 
beg your pardon, my dear, for this digression on nursing and 
schooling ; but I wanted only to explain to you why it was 
that, when I was weary of the business, I still went on in a 
course of dissipation. You see I had nothing at home, either 
in the shape of husband or children, to engage my affections. 
I believe it was this " aching void " in my heart which made 
me, after looking abroad some time for a bosom friend, take 
such a prodigious fancy to Mrs. Freke. She was just then 
coming into fashion ; she struck me, the first time I met her, 
as being downright ugly ; but there was a wild oddity in her 
countenance which made one stare at her, and she was de- 
lighted to be stared at, especially by me ; so we were mutually 
agreeable to each other — I as starer, and she as staree. 
Harriot Freke had, without comparison, more assurance than 
any man or woman I ever saw ; she was downright brass, but 
of the finest kind — Corinthian brass. She was one of the first 
who brought what I call harum scarum manners into fashion. 
I told you that she had assurance — impudence I should have 
called it, for no other word is strong enough. Such things as 
I have heard Harriot Freke say ! — You will not believe it — 
but her conversation at first absolutely made me, like an old- 
fashioned fool, wish I had a fan to play with. But, to my 
astonishment, all this took surprisingly with a set of fashionable 
young men. I found it necessary to reform my manners. If 
I had not taken heart of grace, and publicly abjured the 
heresies oi false delicacy^ I should have been excommunicated. 
Lady Delacour's sprightly elegance — allow me to speak of 
myself in the style in which the newspaper writers talk of me 
— Lady Delacour's sprightly elegance was but pale, not to say 
faded pink, compared with the scarlet of Mrs. Freke's dashing 
audacity. As my rival, she would on certain ground have beat 
me hollow; it was therefore good policy to make her my 
friend : we joined forces, and nothing could stand against us. 
But I have no right to give myself credit for good policy in 
forming this intimacy ; I really followed the dictates of my 
heart or my imagination. There was a frankness in Harriot's 

41 



( 



BELINDA 

manner which I mistook for artlessness of character : she 
spoke with such unbounded freedom on certain subjects, that 
I gave her credit for unbounded sincerity on all subjects : she 
had the talent of making the world believe that virtue to be 
invulnerable by nature which disdained the common outworks 
of art for its defence. I, amongst others, took it for granted, 
that the woman who could make it her sport to " touch the 
brink of all we hate," must have a stronger head than other 
people. I have since been convinced, however, of my mistake. 
I am persuaded that few can touch the brink without tumbling 
headlong down the precipice. Don't apply this, my dear, 
literally^ to the person of whom we were speaking ; I am not 
base enough to betray her secrets, however I may have been 
provoked by her treachery. Of her character and history you 
shall hear nothing but what is necessary for my own justifica- 
tion. The league of amity between us was scarcely ratified 
before my Lord Delacour came, with his wise remonstrating 
face, to beg me " to consider what was due to my own honour 
and his." Like the cosmogony-man in The Vicar of Wakefield^ 
he came out over and over with this cant phrase, which had 
once stood him in stead. " Do you think, my lord," said I, 
" that because I gave up poor Lawless to oblige you, I shall give 
up all common sense to suit myself to your taste ? Harriot 
Freke is visited by everybody but old dowagers and old maids : 
I am neither an old dowager nor an old maid — the consequence 
is obvious, my lord." Pertness in dialogue, my dear, often 
succeeds better with my lord than wit : I therefore saved the 
sterling gold, and bestowed upon him nothing but counters. 
I tell you this to save the credit of my taste and judgment. 

* But to return to my friendship for Harriot Freke. I, of 
course, repeated to her every word which had passed between 
my husband and me. She out-heroded Herod upon the 
occasion; and laughed so much at what she called my folly 
Yd pleading guilty in the Lawless cause, that I was downright 
ashamed of myself, and, purely to prove my innocence, I deter- 
mined, upon the first convenient opportunity, to renew my 
intimacy with the colonel. The opportunity which I so 
ardently desired of redeeming my independence was not long 
wanting. Lawless, as my stars (which you know are always 
more in fault than ourselves) would have it, returned just at 
this time from the continent, where he had been with his 

42 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

regiment ; he returned with a wound across his forehead and 
a black fillet, which made him look something more like a 
hero, and ten times more like a coxcomb, than ever. He was 
in fashion, at all events ; and amongst other ladies, Mrs. 
Luttridge, odious Mrs. Luttridge ! smiled upon him. The 
colonel, however, had taste enough to know the difference 
between smile and smile : he laid himself and his laurels at 
my feet, and I carried him and them about in triumph. 
Wherever I went, especially to Mrs. Luttridge's, envy and 
scandal joined hands to attack me, and I heard wondering 
and whispering wherever I went. I had no object in view but 
to provoke my husband ; therefore, conscious of the purity of 
my intentions, it was my delight to brave the opinion of the 
wondering world. I gave myself no concern about the effect 
my coquetry might have upon the object of this flirtation. 
Poor Lawless ! Heart, I took it for granted, he had none ; 
how should a coxcomb come by a heart ? Vanity I knew he 
had in abundance, but this gave me no alarm, as I thought 
that if it should ever make him forget himself, I mean forget 
what was due to me, I could, by one flash of my wit, strike 
him to the earth, or blast him for ever. One night we had 
been together at Mrs. Luttridge's ; — she, amongst other good 
things, kept a faro bank, and, I am convinced, cheated. Be 
that as it may, I lost an immensity of money, and it was my 
pride to lose with as much gaiety as anybody else could win ; 
so I was, or appeared to be, in uncommonly high spirits, and 
Lawless had his share of my good humour. We left Mrs. 
Luttridge* s together early, about half-past one. As the colonel 
was going to hand me to my carriage, a smart-looking young 
man, as I thought, came up close to the coach door, and stared 
me full in the face : I was not a woman to be disconcerted at 
such a thing as this, but I really was startled when the young 
fellow jumped into the carriage after me : I thought he was 
mad : I had only courage enough to scream. Lawless seized 
hold of the intruder to drag him out, and out he dragged the 
youth, exclaiming, in a high tone, "What is the meaning of 
all this, sir ? Who the devil are you ? My name's Lawless : 
who the devil are you ? " The answer to this was a convulsion 
of laughter. By the laugh I knew it to be Harriot Freke. 
"Who am I ? only a Freke !" cried she : "shake hands." I 
gave her my hand, into the carriage she sprang, and desired 

43 



BELINDA 

the colonel to follow her: Lawless laughed, we all laughed, 
and drove away. "Where do you think IVe been?" said 
Harriot ; " in the gallery of the House of Commons ; almost 
squeezed to death these four hours ; but I swore I'd hear 
Sheridan's speech to-night, and I did ; betted fifty guineas I 
would with Mrs. Luttridge, and have won. Fun and Freke 
for ever, huzza ! " Harriot was mad with spirits, and so noisy 
and unmanageable, that, as I told her, I was sure she was 
drunk. Lawless, in his silly way, laughed incessantly, and I 
was so taken up with her oddities, that, for some time, I did 
not perceive we were going the Lord knows where ; till, at 
last, when the 'larum of Harriot's voice ceased for an instant, 
I was struck with the strange sound of the carriage. " Where 
are we ? not upon the stones, I'm sure," said I ; and putting 
my head out of the window, I saw we were beyond the 
turnpike. " The coachman's drunk as well as you, Harriot," 
said I ; and I was going to pull the string to stop him, but 
Harriot had hold of it. " The man is going very right," said 
she ; " I've told him where to go. Now don't fancy that 
Lawless and I are going to run away with you. All this is 
unnecessary nowadays, thank God ! " To this I agreed, and 
laughed for fear of being ridiculous. " Guess where you are 
going," said Harriot. I guessed and guessed, but could not 
guess right ; and my merry companions were infinitely diverted 
with my perplexity and impatience, more especially as, I 
believe, in spite of all my efforts, I grew rather graver than 
usual. We went on to the end of Sloane Street, and quite out 
of town ; at last we stopped. It was dark ; the footman's 
flambeau was out ; I could only just see by the lamps that we 
were at the door of a lone, odd-looking house. The house 
door opened, and an old woman appeared with a lantern in her 
hand. 

* " Where is this farce, or freak, or whatever you call it, to 
end ? " said I, as Harriot pulled me into the dark passage along 
with her. 

* Alas ! my dear Belinda,' said Lady Delacour, pausing, * I 
little foresaw where or how it was to end. But I am not come 
yet to the tragical part of my story, and as long as I can laugh 
I will. As the old woman and her miserable light went on 
before us, I could almost have thought of Sir Bertrand, or of 
some German horrifications j but I heard Lawless, who never 

44 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

could help laughing at the wrong time, bursting behind me, 
with a sense of his own superiority. 

* " Now you will learn your destiny, Lady Delacour I " said 
Harriot, in a solemn tone. 

*"Yes! from the celebrated Mrs. W , the modem 

dealer in art magic," said I, laughing, "for, now I guess 
whereabouts I am. Colonel Lawless's laugh broke the spell. 
Harriot Freke, never whilst you live expect to succeed in the 
sublimed* Harriot swore at the colonel for the veriest spoil- 
sport she had ever seen, and she whispered to me — "The 
reason he laughs is because he is afraid of our suspecting the 
truth of him, that he believes tout de boh in conjuration, and 
the devil, and all that." The old woman, whose cue I found 
was to be dumb, opened a door at the top of a narrow stair- 
case, and pointing to a tall figure, completely enveloped in fur, 
left us to our fate. I will not trouble you with a pompous de- 
scription of all the mummery of the scene, my dear, as I 
despair of being able to frighten you out of your wits. I should 
have been downright angry with Harriot Freke for bringing me 
to such a place, but that I knew women of the first fashion had 

been with Mrs. W before us — some in sober sadness, 

some by way of frolic. So as there was no fear of being 
ridiculous, there was no shame, you know, and my conscience 
was quite at ease. Harriot had no conscience, so she was 
always at ease ; and never more so than in male attire, which 
she had been told became her particularly. She supported 
the character of a young rake with such spirit and truths that 
I am sure no common conjuror could have discovered any- 
thing feminine about her. She rattled on with a set of 
nonsensical questions ; and among other things she asked, 
" How soon will Lady Delacour marry again after her lord's 
death ? " 

* " She will never marry after her lord's death," answered 
the oracle. "Then she will marry during his lifetime," said 
Harriot. "True," answered the oracle. Colonel Lawless 
laughed ; I was angry ; and the colonel would have been 
quiet, for he was a gentleman, but there was no such thing as 
managing Mrs. Freke, who, though she had laid aside the 
modesty of her own sex, had not acquired the decency of the 
other. "Who is to be Lady Delacour's second husband?" 
cried she ; " you'll not offend any of the present company by 

45 



BELINDA 

naming the man." "Her second husband I cannot name," 
replied the oracle, "but let her beware of a Lawless lover." 
Mrs. Freke and Colonel Lawless, encouraged by her, triumphed 
over me without mercy — I may say, without shame ! Well, 
my dear, I am in a hurry to have done with all this : though I 
" doted upon folly ^'^ yet I was terrified at the thoughts of any- 
thing worse. The idea of a divorce, the public brand of a 
shameful life, shocked me in spite of all my real and all my 
assumed levity. Oh that I had, at this instant, dared to be 
myself ! But my fear of ridicule was greater than my fear of 
vice. " Bless me, my dear Lady Delacour," whispered Harriot, 
as we left this house, " what can make you in such a desperate 
hurry to get home ? You gape and fidget : one would think 
you had never sat up a night before in your life. I verily 
believe you are afraid to trust yourself with us. Which of us 
are you afraid of, Lawless, or me, ox yourself f^^ There was a 
tone of contempt in the last words which piqued me to the 
quick ; and however strange it may seem, I was now anxious 
only to convince Harriot that I was not afraid of myself. 
False shame made me act as if I had no shame. You would 
not suspect me of knowing anything of false shame, but depend 
upon it, my dear, many, who appear to have as much assur- 
ance as I have, are secretly its slaves. I moralise, because I 
am come to a part of my story which I should almost be glad 
to omit ; but I promised you that there should be no sins of 
omission. It was light, but not broad daylight, when we got 
to Knightsbridge. Lawless, encouraged (for I cannot deny it) 
by the levity of my manner, as well as of Harriot's, was in 
higher and more familiar spirits than I ever saw him. Mrs. 
Freke desired me to set her down at her sister's, who lived in 
Grosvenor Place : I did so, and I beg you to believe that I 
was in an agony to get rid of my colonel at the same time ; 
but you know I could not, before Harriot Freke, absolutely say 
to him, " Get out I " Indeed, to tell things as they were, it 
was scarcely possible to guess by my manner that I was under 
any anxiety, I acted my part so well, or so ill. ' As Harriot 
Freke jumped out of the coach, a cock crowed in the area of 
her sister's house : " There I " cried Harriot, " do you hear the 
cock crow. Lady Delacour ? Now it's to be hoped your fear 
of goblins is over, else I would not be so cruel as to leave the 
pretty dear all alone." "All alone 1" answered I: "your 

46 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY 

friend the colonel is much obliged to you for making nobody 
of him." " My friend the colonel," whispered Harriot, leaning 
with her bold masculine arms on the coach door — " my friend 
the colonel is much obliged to me, Pm sure, for remembering 
what the cunning or the knowing woman told us just now ; 
so when I said I left you alone, I was not guilty of a bull, was 
I ? " I had the grace to be heartily ashamed of this speech, 
and called out, in utter confusion, " To Berkley Square. But 
where shall I set you down, colonel ? Harriot, good-morning : 
don't forget you are in man's clothes." I did not dare to repeat 
the question of " where shall I set you down, colonel ? " at this 
instant, because Harriot gave me such an arch, sneering look, 
as much as to say, " Still afraid of yourself ! " We drove on : 
Vm persuaded that the confusion which, in spite of all my 
efforts, broke through my affected levity, encouraged Lawless, 
who was naturally a coxcomb and a fool, to believe that I was 
actually his, else he never could have been so insolent. In 
short, my dear, before we had got through the turnpike gate, I 
was downright obliged to say to him, "Get out ! " which I did 
with a degree of indignation that quite astonished him. He 
muttered something about ladies knowing their minds ; and I 
own, though I went off with flying colours, I secretly blamed 
myself as much as I did him, and I blamed Harriot more than 
I did either. I sent for her the next day, as soon as I could, 
to consult her. She expressed such astonishment, and so 
much concern at this catastrophe of our night's frolic, and 
blamed herself with so many oaths, and execrated Lawless for 
a coxcomb, so much to the ease and satisfaction of my con- 
science, that I was confirmed in my good opinion of her, and 
indeed felt for her the most lively affection and esteem ; for 
observe, with me esteem ever followed affection, instead of 
affection following esteem. Woe be to all who in morals pre- 
posterously put the cart before the horse ! But to proceed 
vnth my history : all fashionable historians stop to make 
reflections, supposing that no one else can have the sense to 
make any. My es/eemed friend agreed with me that it would 
be best for all parties concerned to hush up this business ; that 
as Lawless was going out of town in a few days, to be elected 
for a borough, we should get rid of him in the best way possible, 
without "more last words;" that he had been punished 
sufficiently on the spot, and that to punish twice for the same 

47 



BELINDA 

offence, once in private and once in public, would be contrary 
to the laws of Englishmen and Englishwomen, and in my case 
would be contrary to the evident dictates of prudence, because 
I could not complain without calling upon Lord Delacour to 
call Lawless out ; this I could not do without acknowledging 
that his lordship had been in the right, in warning me about 
his honour and my own^ which old phrase I dreaded to hear 
for the ninety-ninth time : besides, Lord Delacour was the last 
man in the world I should have chosen for my knight, though 
unluckily he was my lord ; besides, all things considered, I 
thought the whole story might not tell so well in the world for 
me, tell it which way I would : we therefore agreed that it 
would be most expedient to hold our tongues. We took it for 
granted that Lawless would hold his, and as for my people, they 
knew nothing, I thought, or if they did, I was sure of them. 
How the thing got abroad I could not at the time conceive, 
though now I am well acquainted with the baseness and 
treachery of the woman I called my friend. The affair was 
known and talked of everywhere the next day, and the story 
was told especially at odious Mrs. Luttridge^s, with such exag- 
gerations as drove me almost mad. I was enraged, inconceiv- 
ably enraged with Lawless, from whom I imagined the reports 
originated. 

* I was venting my indignation against him in a room' full 
of company, where I had just made my story good, * when a 
gentleman, to whom I was a stranger, came in breathless, with 
the news that Colonel Lawless was killed in a duel by Lord 
Delacour ; that they were carrying him home to his mother's, 
and that the body was just going by the door. The company 
all crowded to the windows immediately, and I was left stand- 
ing alone till I could stand no longer. What was said or 
done after this I do not remember ; I only know that when I 
came to myself, the most dreadful sensation I ever experienced 
was the certainty that I had the blood of a fellow-creature to 
answer for. — I wonder,' said Lady Delacour, breaking off at 
this part of her history, and rising suddenly, * I wonder what is 
become of Marriott ! — surely it is time for me to have my drops. 
Miss. Portman, have the goodness to ring, for I must have 
something immediately.' Belinda was terrified at the wildness 
of her manner. Lady Delacour became more composed, or 
put more constraint upon herself, at the sight of Marriott. 

48 



« It/t slatviing altia lilt I caild iland ne Imgir. 



BELINDA 

Marriott brought from the closet in her lady^s room the drops, 
which Lady Delacour swallowed with precipitation. Then she 
ordered coffee, and afterward chasse-cafiy and at last, turning 
to Belinda, with a forced smile, she said — 

* Now shall the Princess Scheherazade go on with her 
story ? ' 



CHAPTER IV 

LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

* I LEFT off with the true skill of a good story-teller, at the 
most interesting part — a duel ; and yet duels are so common 
now that they are really vulgar incidents. 

*But we think that a duel concerning ourselves must be 
more extraordinary than any other. We hear of men being 
shot in duels about nothing every day, so it is really a weak- 
ness in me to think so much about poor Lawless's death, as 
Harriot Freke said to me at the time. She expected to see 
me show sorrow in public j but very fortunately for me, she 
roused my pride, which was always stronger than my reason ; 
and I behaved myself upon the occasion as became a fine 
lady. There were some things, however, I could hardly 
stand. You must know that Lawless, fool and coxcomb as he 
was, had some magnanimity, and showed it — as some people do 
from whom it is least expected — on his death-bed. The last 
words he said were, " Lady Delacour is innocent — I charge 
you, don't prosecute Lord Delacour." This he said to his 
mother, who, to complete my misery, is one of the most 
respectable women in England, and was most desperately fond 
of Lawless, who was an only son. She never has recovered 
his loss. Do you remember asking me who a tall elderly lady 
in mourning was, that you saw getting into her carriage one 
day, at ^outh Audley Street chapel, as we passed by in our 
way to the park ? That was Lady Lawless : I believe I 
didn't answer you at the time. I meet her every now and then 
— to me a spectre of dismay. But, as Harriot Freke said, 
certainly such a man as poor Lawless was a useless being in 

50 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

society, however he may be regretted by a doting mother. 
We should see things in a philosophical light, if we can. I 
should not have suffered half as much as I did if he had been 
a man of a stronger understanding ; but he was a poor, vain, weak 
creature, that I actually drew on and duped with my own 
coquetry, whilst all the time I was endeavouring only to plague 
Lord Delacour. I was punished enough by the airs his lord- 
ship doubly gave himself, upon the strength of his valour and 
his judgment — they roused me completely ; and I blamed him 
with all my might, and got an enormous party of my friends, I 
mean my acquaintance, to run him down full cry, for having 
fought for me. It was absurd — it was rash — it was want of 
proper confidence in his wife ; thus we said. Lord Delacour 
had his partisans, it is true ; amongst whom the loudest was 
odious Mrs. Luttridge. I embraced the first opportunity I 
met with of retaliation. You must know that Mrs. Luttridge, 
besides being a great faro -player, was a great dabbler in 
politics ; for she was almost as fond of power as of money : she 
talked loud and fluently, and had, somehow or other, partly 
by intriguing, parly by relationship, connected herself with 
some of the leading men in parliament. There was to be a 
contested election in our county : Mr. Luttridge had a good 
estate there next to Lord Delacour's, and being of an ancient 
family, and keeping a good table, the Luttridges were popular 
enough. At the first news of an election, out comes a flaming 
advertisement from Mr. Luttridge ; away posted Mrs. Lutt- 
ridge to begin her canvass, and away posted Lady Delacour 
after her, to canvass for a cousin of Harriot Freke. This 
was a new scene for me ; but I piqued myself on the 
versatility of my talents, and I laid myself out to please all the 
squires, and, what was more difficult, all the squires' ladies, in 

shire. I was ambitious to have it said of me, "that 

I was the finest figure that ever appeared upon a canvass." 

Oh, ye shireians, how hard did I work to obtain your 

praise ! All that the combined force of vanity and hatred 
could inspire I performed, and with success. You have but 
little curiosity, I presume, to know how many hogsheads of port 
went down the throat of John Bull, or how many hecatombs 
were offered up to the genius of English liberty. My hatred 
to Mrs. Luttridge was, of course, called love of my country. 
Lady Delacour was deified by all true patriots ; and, luckily, a 

SI 



BELINDA 

handsome legacy left me for my spirit, by an uncle who died 
six weeks before the election, enabled us to sustain the expense 
of my apotheosis. The day of election came ; Harriot Freke 
and I made our appearance on the hustings, dressed in 
splendid party unifonns ; and before us out knights and squires 



held two enormous panniers full of ribands and cockades, 
which we distributed with a grace that won all hearts, if not all 
votes. Mrs. Luttridge thought the panniers would carry the 
election ; and forthwith she sent off an express for a pair of 
panniers twice as lai^e as ours. I took out my pencil, and 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

drew a caricature of the ass and her panniers; wrote an 
epigram at the bottom of it ; and the epigram and the carica- 
ture were soon in the hands of half shire. The verses 

were as bad as impromptus usually are, and the drawing 
was not much better than the writing ; but the goodwill of 
the critics supplied all my deficiencies ; and never was more 
praise bestowed upon the pen of Burke, or the pencil of 
Reynolds, than was lavished upon me by my honest friends. 
My dear Belinda, if you will not quarrel with the quality, you 
may have what quantity of praise you please. Mrs. Luttridge, 
as I hoped and expected, was beyond measure enraged at the 
sight of the caricature and epigram. She was, besides being 
a gamester and a politician — what do you think ? — an excellent 
shot ! She wished, she said, to be a man, that she' might be 
qualified to take proper notice of my conduct. The same kind 
friends who showed her my epigram repeated to me her 
observation upon it. Harriot Freke was at my elbow, and 
offered to take any message I might think proper to Mrs. 
Luttridge. I scarcely thought her in earnest till she added, 
that the only way left nowadays for a woman to distinguish 
herself was by spirit ; as everything else was grown " cheap 
and vulgar in the eyes of men ; " that she knew one of the 
cleverest young men in England, and a man of fashion into 
the bargain, who was just going to publish a treatise " Upon 
the Propriety and Necessity of Female Duelling i" and that he 
had demonstrated, beyond a possibility of doubt, that civilised 
society could not exist half a century longer without this 
necessary improvement. I had prodigious deference for the 
masculine superiority, as I thought it, of Harriot's under- 
standing. She was a philosopher, and a fine lady — I was 
only a fine lady ; I had never fired a pistol in my life, and I 
was a little inclined to cowardice ; but Harriot offered to bet 
any wager upon the steadiness of my hand, and assured me 
that I should charm all beholders in male attire In short, as 
my second, if I would furnish her with proper credentials, she 
swore she would undertake to furnish me with clothes, and 
pistols, and courage, and everything I wanted. I sat down to 
pen my challenge. When I was writing it, my hand did not 
tremble muck — not more than my Lord Delacour's always 
does. The challenge was very prettily worded : I believe I 
can repeat it. 

S3 



BELINDA 

* " Lady Delacour presents her compliments to Mrs. Lutt- 

ridge — she is informed that Mrs. L wishes she were a man, 

that she might be qualified to take proper notice of Lady 

D ^'s conduct. Lady Delacour begs leave to assure Mrs. 

Luttridge, that though she has the misfortune to be a woman, 
she is willing to account for her conduct in any manner Mrs. 

L may think proper, and at any hour and place she may 

appoint. Lady D leaves the choice of the weapons to 

Mrs. L . Mrs. H. Freke, who has the honour of present- 
ing this note, is Lady Delacour*s ^'(?«^ upon this occasion." 

* I cannot repeat Mrs. Luttridge's answer ; all I know is, it 
was not half as neatly worded as my note ; but the essential 
part of it was, that she accepted my challenge with pleasure^ 
and should do herself the honour of meeting me at six o'clock 
the next morning ; that Miss Honour O' Grady would be her 
friend upon the occasion ; and that pistols were the weapons 
she preferred. The place of appointment was behind an old 

bam, about two miles from the town of . The hour 

was fixed to be early in the morning, to prevent all probability 
of interruption. In the evening, Harriot and I rode to the 
ground. There were several bullets sticking in the posts of 
the barn : this was the place where Mrs. Luttridge had been 
accustomed to exercise herself in firing at a mark. I own my 
courage " oozed out " a little at this sight. The Duke de la 
Rochefoucault, I believe, said truly, that "many would be 
cowards if they dared." There seemed to me to be no physical 
and less moral necessity for my fighting this duel ; but I did 
not venture to reason on a point of honour with my spirited 
second. I bravadoed to Harriot most magnanimously ; but at 
night, when Marriott was undressing me, I could not forbear 
giving her a hint, which I thought might tend to preserve the 
king's peace, and the peace of the county. I went to the 
ground in the morning in good spirits, and with a safe 
conscience. Harriot was in admiration of my " lion-port " ; 
and, to do her justice, she conducted herself with great cool- 
ness upon the occasion ; but then it may be observed, that it 
was I who was to stand fire, and not she. I thought of poor 
Lawless a billion of times, at least, as we were going to the 
ground ; and I had my presentiments, and my confused notions 
of poetic justice : but poetic justice, and all other sorts of 
justice, went clear out of my head, when I saw my antagonist 

54 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

and her friend, actually pistol in hand, waiting for us ; they 
•were both in men's clothes. I secretly called upon the name 
of Marriott with fervency, and I looked round with more 
anxiety than ever Bluebeard's wife, or " Anne, sister Anne ! " 
looked to see if anybody was coming : nothing was to be seen 
but the grass blown by the wind — no Marriott to throw herself 
ioute /plorde between the combatants — no peace-officers to bind 
us over to our good behaviour — no deliverance at hand ; and 
Mrs. Luttridge, by all the laws of honour, as challenged, was 
to have the first shot. Oh, those laws of honour ! I was upon 
the point of making an apology, in spite of them all, when, to 
my inexpressible joy, I was relieved from the dreadful alterna- 
tive of being shot through the head, or of becoming a laughing- 
stock for life, by an incident, less heroic, I'll grant you, than 
opportune. But you shall have the whole scene, as well as I 
can recollect it ; €is well — for those who for the first time go 
into a field of battle do not, as I am credibly informed and in- 
ternally persuaded, always find the clearness of their memories 
improved by the novelty of their situation. Mrs. Luttridge, 
when we came up, was leaning, with a truly martial negligence, 
against the wall of the bam, with her pistol, as I told you, in 
her hand. She spoke not a word ; but her second, Miss 
Honour O'Grady, advanced towards us immediately, and, 
taking off her hat very manfully, addressed herself to my 
second. — " Mistress Harriot Freke, I presume, if I mistake 
not." Harriot bowed slightly, and answered, " Miss Honour 
O'Grady, I presume, if I mistake not." " The same, at your 
service," replied Miss Honour. " I have a few words to 
suggest that may save a great deal of noise, and bloodshed, 
and ill-will." "As to noise," said Harriot, "it is a thing in 
which I delight, therefore I beg that mayn't be spared on my 
account ; as to bloodshed, I beg that may not be spared on 
Lady Delacour's account, for her honour, I am sure, is dearer 
to her than her blood ; and, as to ill-will, I should be concerned 
to have that saved on Mrs. Luttridge's account, as we all know 
it is a thing in which she delights, even more than I do in 
noise, or Lady Delacour in blood : but pray proceed. Miss 
Honour O'Grady ; you have a few words to suggest." " Yes, 
I would willingly observe, as it is my duty to my principaly^ 
said Honour, " that one who is compelled to fire her pistol with 
her left hand, though ever so good a shot naturally^ is by no 

55 



BELINDA 

means on a footing with one who has the advantage of her 
right hand." Harriot rubbed my pistol with the sleeve of her 
coat, and I, recovering my wit with my hopes of being witty 
with impunity, answered, " Unquestionably, left-handed wisdom 
and left-handed courage are neither of them the very best of 
their kinds ; but we must content ourselves with them if we 
can have no other." " That /J/J" cried Honour O'Grady, " is 
not, like most of the family of the ifs^ a peace-maker. My 
Lady Delacour, I was going to observe that my principal has 
met with an unfortunate accident, in the shape of a whitlow on 
the fore-finger of her right hand, which incapacitates her from 
drawing a trigger ; but I am at your service, ladies, either of 
you, that can't put up with a disappointment with good humour." 
I never, during the whole course of my existence, was more 
disposed to bear a disappointment with good humour, to prove 
that I was incapable of bearing malice ; and to oblige the 
seconds, for form's sake, I agreed that we should take our 
ground, and fire our pistols into the air. Mrs. Luttridge, with 
her left-handed wisdom, fired first ; and I, with great magna- 
nimity, followed her example. I must do my adversary's 
second, Miss Honour O'Grady, the justice to observe, that in 
this whole affair she conducted herself not only with the spirit, 
but with the good nature and generosity characteristic of her 
nation. We met enemies, and parted friends. 

* Life is a tragicomedy ! Though the critics will allow of 
no such thing in their books, it is a true representation of what 
passes in the world ; and of all lives mine has been the most 
grotesque mixture, or alternation, I should say, of tragedy and 
comedy. All this is apropos to something I have not told you 
yet This comic duel ended tragically for me. "How?" 
you say. Why, 'tis clear that I was not shot through the 
head ; but it would have been better, a hundred times better 
for me, if I had ; I should have been spared, in this life at 
least, the torments of the damned. I was not used to priming 
and loading : my pistol was overcharged : when I fired, it re- 
coiled, and I received a blow on my breast, the consequences 
of which you have seen. 

* The pain was nothing at the moment compared with what 
I have since experienced : but I will not complain till I cannot 
avoid it. I had not, at the time I received the blow, much 
leisure for lamentation ; for I had scarcely discharged my pistol 

56 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

when we heard a loud shout on the other side of the bam, and 
a crowd of town's people, country people, and haymakers, came 
pouring down the lane towards us, with rakes and pitchforks 
in their hands. An English mob is really a formidable thing. 
Marriott had mismanaged her business most strangely : she 
had, indeed, spread a report of a duel — a female duel ; but the 
untutored sense of propriety amongst these rustics was so ' 
shocked at the idea of a duel fought by women in metis clothes^ ' 
that I verily believe they would have thrown us into the river i 
with all their hearts. Stupid blockheads ! I am convinced that 
they would not have been half so much scandalised if we had 
boxed in petticoats. The want of these petticoats had nearly ^ 
proved our destruction, or at least our disgrace : a peeress after 
being ducked, could never have held her head above water 
again with any grace. The mob had just closed round us, 
crying, " Shame ! shame ! shame ! — duck 'em — duck 'em — 
gentle or simple — duck 'em — duck 'em " — when their attention 
was suddenly turned towards a person who was driving up the 
lane a large herd of squeaking, grunting pigs. The person 
was clad in splendid regimentals, and he was armed with a 
long pole, to the end of which hung a bladder, and his pigs 
were frightened, and they ran squeaking from one side of the 
road to the other ; and the pig-driver in regimentals, in the 
midst of the noise, could not without difficulty make his voice 
heard ; but at last he was understood to say, that a bet of a 
hundred guineas depended upon his being able to keep these 
pigs ahead of a flock of turkeys that were following them ; and 
he begged the mob to give him and his pigs fair play. At the 
news of this wager, and at the sight of the gentleman turned 
pig-driver, the mob were in raptures ; and at the sound of his 
voice, Harriot Freke immediately exclaimed, "Clarence Hervey! 
by all that's lucky 1 " ' 

* Clarence Hervey!' interrupted Belinda. * Clarence Hervey, 
my dear,' said Lady Delacour, coolly : * he can do everything, 
you know, even drive pigs, better than anybody else I — ^but let 
me go on. 

* Harriot Freke shouted in a stentorian voice, which actually 
made your pig-driver start : she explained to him in French 
our distress, and the cause of it. Clarence was, as I suppose 
you have discovered long ago, "that cleverest young man in 
England who had written on the propriety and necessity of 

57 



II driving up lit lam a iargt herd e/ tqutaMitg, gnrnting figt. 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

female duelling." He answered Harriot in French — " To at- 
tempt your rescue by force would be vain ; but I will do better, 
I will make a diversion in your favour." Immediately our 
hero, addressing himself to the sturdy fellow who held me in 
custody, exclaimed, " Huzza, my boys ! Old England for ever ! 
Yonder comes a Frenchman with a flock of turkeys. My pigs 
will beat them, for a hundred guineas. Old England for ever, 
huzza ! " 

*As he spoke, the French officer, with whom Clarence 
Hervey had laid the wager, appeared at the turn of the lane — 
his turkeys half flying — half hobbling up the road before him. 
The Frenchman waved a red streamer over the heads of his 
flock — Clarence shook a pole, from the top of which hung a 
bladder full of beans. The pigs grunted, the turkeys gobbled, 
and the mob shouted : eager for the fame of Old England, the 
crowd followed Clarence with loud acclamations. The French 
officer was followed with groans and hisses. So great was 
the confusion, and so great the zeal of the patriots, that even 
the pleasure of ducking the female duellists was forgotten in 
the general enthusiasm. All eyes and all hearts were intent 
upon the race ; and now the turkeys got foremost, and now the 
pigs. But when we came within sight of the horsepond, I 
heard one man cry, "Don't forget the ducking." How I 
trembled ! but our knight shouted to his followers — " For the 
love of Old England, my brave boys, keep between my pigs 
and the pond : — if our pigs see the water, they'll run to it, and 
England's undone." 

* The whole fury of the mob was by this speech conducted 
away from us. " On, on, my boys, into town, to the market- 
place : whoever gains the market-place first wins the day." 
Our general shook the rattling bladder in triumph over the 
heads of " the swinish multitude," and we followed in perfect 
security in his train into the town. 

* Men, women, and children, crowded to the windows and 
doors. "Retreat into the first place you can," whispered 
Clarence to us : we were close to him. Harriot Ferke pushed 
her way into a milliner's shop : I could not get in after her, 
for a frightened pig turned back suddenly, and almost threw 
me down. Clarence Hervey caught me, and favoured my 
retreat into the shop. But poor Clarence lost his bet by his 
gallantry. Whilst he was manoeuvring in my favour, the 

59 



BELINDA 

turkeys got several yards ahead of the pigs, and reaching the 
market-place first, won the race. 

*The French officer found great difficulty in getting safe 
out of the town ; but Clarence represented to the mob that he 
was a prisoner on his parole, and that it would be unlike 
Englishmen to insult a prisoner. So he got off without being 
pelted, and they both returned in safety to the house of 

General Y , where they were to dine, and where they 

entertained a large party of officers with the account of this 
adventure. 

* Mrs. Freke and I rejoiced in our escape, and we thought 
that the whole business was now over ; but in this we were 
mistaken. The news of our duel, which had spread in the 
town, raised such an uproar as had never been heard, even at 
the noisiest election. Would you believe it ? — The fate of the 
election turned upon this duel. The common people, one and 
all, declared that they would not vote either for Mr. Luttridge 
or Mr. Freke, because as how — but I need not repeat all the 
platitudes that they said. In short, neither ribands nor brandy 
could bring them to reason. With true English pigheadedness, 
they went every man of them and polled for an independent 
candidate of their own choosing, whose wife, forsooth, was a 
proper behaved woman. 

*The only thing I had to console me for all this was 
Clarence Hervey's opinion that I looked better in man's clothes 
than my friend Harriot Freke. Clarence was charmed with 
my spirit and grace ; but he had not leisure at that time to 
attach himself seriously to me, or to anything. He was then 
about nineteen or twenty : he was all vivacity, presumption, 
and paradox ; he was enthusiastic in support of his opinions ; 
but he was at the same time the most candid man in the world, 
for there was no set of tenets which could be called exclusively 
his : he adopted in liberal rotation every possible absurdity ; 
and, to do him justice, defended each in its turn with the most 
ingenious arguments that could be devised, and with a flow of 
words which charmed the ear, if not the sense. His essay on 
female duelling was a most extraordinary performance ; it was 
handed about in manuscript till it was worn out ; he talked of 
publishing it, and dedicating it to me. However, this scheme, 
amongst a million of others, he talked of^ but never put into 
execution. Luckily for him, many of his follies evaporated in 

60 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

words. I saw but little either of him or his follies at this time. 
All I know about him is, that after he had lost his bet of a 
hundred guineas, as a pig -driver, by his knight-errantry in 
rescuing the female duellists from a mob, he wrote a very 
charming copy of verses upon the occasion ; and that he was 
so much provoked by the stupidity of some of his brother 
officers who could not understand the verses, that he took a 
disgust to the army, and sold his commission. He set out upon 
a tour to the continent, and I returned with Harriot Freke to 
London, and forgot the existence of such a person as Clarence 
Hervey for three or four years. Unless people can be of some 
use, or unless they are actually present, let them be ever so 
agreeable or meritorious, we are very apt to forget them. One 
grows strangely selfish by living in the world : His a perfect 
cure for romantic notions of gratitude, and love, and so forth. 
If I had lived in the country in an old manor-house, Clarence 
Hervey would have doubtless reigned paramount in my 
imagination as the deliverer of my life, etc. But in London 
one has no time for thinking of deliverers. And yet what I 
did with my time I cannot tell you ; 'tis gone, and no trace 
left. One day after another went I know not how. Had I 
wept for every day I lost, Vm sure I should have cried my 
eyes out before this time. If I had enjoyed any amusement in 
the midst of this dissipation, it would all have been very well ; 
but I declare to you in confidence I have been tired to death. 
Nothing can be more monotonous than the life of a hackneyed 
fine lady ; — I question whether a dray-horse, or a horse in a 
mill, would willingly exchange places with one, if they could 
know as much of the matter as I do. You are surprised at 
hearing all this from me. My dear Belinda, how I envy you ! 
You are not yet tired of everything. TAe world has still the 
gloss of novelty for you ; but don*t expect that can last above 
a season. My first winter was certainly entertaining enough. 
One begins with being charmed with the bustle and glare, 
and what the French call spectacle j this is over, I think, in six 
months. I can but just recollect having been amused at the 
Theatres, and the Opera, and the Pantheon, and Ranelagh, 
and all those places, for their own sakes. Soon, very soon, we 
go out to see people, not things : then we grow tired of seeing 
people ; then we grow tired of being seen by people ; and then 
we go out merely because we can't stay at home. A dismal 

6i 



BELINDA 

story, and a true one. Excuse me for showing you the simple 
truth ; well-dressed falsehood is a personage much more pre- 
sentable. I am now come to an epoch in my history in which 
there is a dearth of extraordinary events. What shall I do ? 
Shall I invent ? I would if I could ; but I cannot. Then I 
must confess to you that during these last four years I should 
have died of ennui if I had not been kept alive by my hatred 
of Mrs. Luttridge and of my husband. I don't know which I 
hate most — Oh yes, I do — I certainly hate Mrs. Luttridge the 
most ; for a woman can always hate a woman more than she 
can hate a man, unless she has been in love with him, which I 
never was with poor Lord Delacour. Yes ! I certainly hate 
Mrs. Luttridge the most ; I cannot count the number of ex- 
travagant things I have done on purpose to eclipse her. We 
have had rival routs, rival concerts, rival galas, rival theatres : 
she has cost me more than sh^s worth ; but then I certainly 
have mortified her once a month at least My hatred to Mrs. 
Luttridge, my dear, is the remote cause of my love for you ; 
for it was the cause of my intimacy with your aunt Stanhope. — 
Mrs. Stanhope is really a clever woman — she knows how to 
turn the hatred of all her friends and acquaintance to her own 
advantage. — To serve lovers is a thankless office compared 
with that of serving haters — polite haters I mean. It may be 
dangerous, for aught I know, to interpose in the quarrels of 
those who hate their neighbours, not only with all their souls, 
but with all their strength — the barbarians fight it out, kiss, and 
are friends. The quarrels which never come to blows are 
safer for a go-between ; but even these are not to be compared 
to such as never come to words : your true silent hatred is that 
which lasts for ever. The moment it was known that Mrs. 
Luttridge and I had come to the resolution never to speak to 
one another, your aunt Stanhope began to minister to my 
hatred so that she made herself quite agreeable. She one 
winter gave me notice that my adversary had set her heart 
upon having a magnificent entertainment on a particular day. 
On that day I determined, of course, to have a rival gala. Mrs. 
Stanhope's maid had a lover, a gardener, who lived at Chelsea ; 
and the gardener had an aloe, which was expected soon to 
blow. Now a plant that blows but once in a hundred years is 
worth having. The gardener intended to make a public 
exhibition of it, by which he expected to gain about a hundred 

62 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

guineas. Your aunt Stanhope's maid got it from him for me 
for fifty ; and I had it whispered about that an aloe in full blow 
would stand in the middle of one of Lady Delacour*s supper 
tables. The difficulty was to make Mrs. Luttridge fix upon 
the very day we wanted ; for you know we could not possibly 
put off the blowing of our aloe. Your aunt Stanhope managed 
the thing admirably by means of a common friend, who was 
not a suspected person with the Luttridges ; in short, my dear, 
I gained my point — everybody came from Mrs. Luttridge's to 
me, or to my aloe. She had a prodigiously fine supper, but 
scarcely a soul stayed with her; they all came to see what 
could be seen but once in a hundred years. Now the aloe, you 
know, is of a cumbersome height for a supper ornament. My 
saloon luckily has a dome, and under the dome we placed it. 
Round the huge china vase in which it was planted we placed 
the most beautiful, or rather the most expensive hothouse plants 
we could procure. After all, the aloe was an ugly thing ; but 
it answered my purpose — it made Mrs. Luttridge, as I am 
credibly informed, absolutely weep with vexation. I was 
excessively obliged to your aunt Stanhope ; and I assured her 
that if ever it were in my power, she might depend upon my 
gratitude. Pray, when you write, repeat the same thing to her, 
and tell her that since she has introduced Belinda Portman to 
me, I am a hundred times more obliged to her than ever I was 
before. 

* But to proceed with my important history. — I will not tire 
you with fighting over again all my battles in my seven years' 
war with Mrs. Luttridge. I believe love is more to your taste 
than hatred ; therefore I will go on as fast as possible to 
Clarence Hervey*s return from his travels. He was much 
improved by them, or at least I thought so ; for he was heard 
to declare, that after all he had seen in France and Italy, Lady 
Delacour appeared to him the most charming woman, of her age, 
in Europe. The words, of her age, piqued me ; and I spared 
no pains to make him forget them. A stupid man cannot 
readily be persuaded out of his senses — what he sees he sees, 
and neither more nor less ; but 'tis the easiest thing in the 
world to catch hold of a man of genius : you have nothing to do 
but to appeal from his senses to his imagination, and then he sees 
with the eyes of his imagination, and hears with the ears of his 
imagination ; and then no matter what the age, beauty, or wit 

63 



BELINDA 

of the charmer may be — no matter whether it be Lady 
Delacour or Belinda Portman, I think I know Clarence 
Hervey's character aufinfondy and I could lead him where I 
pleased : but don't be alarmed, my dear ; you know I can't 
lead him into matrimony. You look at me, and from me, and 
you don't well know which way to look. You are surprised, 
perhaps, after all that passed, all that I felt, and all that I still 
feel about poor Lawless, I should not be cured of coquetry. 
So am I surprised ; but habit, fashion, the devil, I believe, 
lead us on : and then. Lord Delacour is so obstinate and 
jealous — you can't have forgotten the polite conversation that 
passed one morning at break&st between his lordship and me 
about Clarence Hervey ; but neither does his lordship know, 
nor does Clarence Hervey suspect, that my object with him is 
to conceal from the world what I cannot conceal from myself — 
that I am a dying woman. I am, and I see you think me, a 
strange, weak, inconsistent creature. I was intended for some- 
thing better, but now it is too late ; a coquette I have lived, 
and a coquette I shall die : I speak frankly to you. Let me 
have the glory of leading Clarence Hervey about with me in 
public for a few months longer, then I must quit the stage. 
As to love, you know with me that is out of the question ; all 
I ask or wish for is admiration.' 

Lady Delacour paused, and leaned back on the sofa ; she 
appeared in great pain. 

* Oh ! — I am sometimes,' resumed she, * as you see, in 
terrible pain. For two years after I gave myself that blow 
with the pistol, I neglected the warning twinges that I felt 
from time to time ; at last I was terrified. Marriott was the 
only person to whom I mentioned my fears, and she was pro- 
foundly ignorant : she flattered me with false hopes, till, alas ! 
it was in vain to doubt of the nature of my complaint : then 
she urged me to consult a physician ; that I would not do — I 
could not — I never will consult a physician, — I would not for 
the universe have my situation known. You stare — you cannot 
enter into my feelings. Why, my dear, if I lose admiration, 
what have I left? Would you have me live upon pity? 
Consider what a dreadful thing it must be to me, who have no 
friends, no family, to be confined to a sick room — a sick bed ; 
'tis what I must come to at last, but not yet — not yet. I have 
fortitude ; I should despise myself if I had no species of merit : 

64 



LADY DELACOUR'S HISTORY CONTINUED 

besides, it is still some occupation to me to act my part in 
public ; and bustle, noise, nonsense, if they do net amuse or 
interest me, yet they stifle reflection. May you never know 
what it is to feel remorse ! The idea of that poor wretch. 
Lawless, whom I actually murdered as much as if I had shot 
him, haunts me whenever I am alone. It is now between 
eight and nine years since he died, and I have lived ever since 
in a constant course of dissipation ; but it won't do — conscience, 
conscience will be heard I Since my health has been weakened, 
I believe I have acquired more conscience. I really think that 
my stupid lord, who has neither ideas nor sensations, except 
when he is intoxicated, is a hundred times happier than I am. 
But I will spare you, Belinda ; I promised that you should not 
have Si scene, and I will keep my word. It is, however, a great 
relief to open my mind to one who has some feeling : Harriot 
Freke has none ; I am convinced that she has no more feeling 
than this table. I have not yet told you how she has used me. 
You know that it was she who led or rather dragged me into 
that scrape with Lawless; for that I never reproached her. 
You know it was she who frightened me into fighting that duel 
with Mrs. Luttridge ; for this I never reproached her. She has 
cost me my peace of mind, my health, my life ; she knows it, 
and she forsakes, betrays, insults, and leaves me to die. I can- 
not command my temper sufficiently to be coherent when I 
speak of her ; I cannot express in words what I feel. How 
could that most treacherous of beings, for ten years, make me 
believe that she was my friend ? Whilst I thought she really 
loved me, I pardoned her all her faults — a/l — what a compre- 
hensive word ! — All, all I forgave ; and continually said — " dut 
she has a good heart." A good heart ! — she has no heart ! — 
she has no feeling for any living creature but herself. I always 
thought that she cared for no one but for me ; but now I find 
she can throw me off as easily as she would her glove. And 
this, too, I suppose she calls a frolic ; or, in her OAvn vulgar 
language, fun. Can you believe it ? — What do you think she 
has done, my dear ? She has gone over at last to odious Mrs. 
Luttridge — actually she has gone down with the Luttridges 

to shire. The independent member having taken the 

Chiltem Hundreds, vacates his seat : a new election comes on 
directly : the Luttridges are to bring in Freke — not Harriot's 
cousin — they have cut him, — but her husband, who is now to 
F 65 



BELINDA 

commence senator : he is to come in for the county, upon 
condition that Luttridge shall have Freke*s borough. Lord 
Delacour, without saying one syllable, has promised his interest 
to this precious junto, and Lady Delacour is left a miserable 
cipher. My lord's motives I can clearly understand : he lost 
a thousand guineas to Mrs. Luttridge this winter, and this is a 
convenient way of paying her. Why Harriot should be so 
anxious to serve a husband whom she hates, bitterly hates, 
might surprise anybody who did not know les dessous des cartes 
as well as I do. You are but just come into the world, 
Belinda — the world of wickedness, I mean, my dear, or you 
would have heard what a piece of work there was a few years 
ago about Harriot Freke and this cousin of hers. Without 
betraying her confidence, I may just tell you what is known to 
everybody, that she went so far, that if it had not been for me, not 
a soul would have visited her : she swam in the sea of folly out 
of her depth — the tide of fashion ebbed, and there was she left 
sticking knee deep in the mud — a ridiculous, scandalous figure. 
I had the courage and foolish good nature to hazard myself for 
her, and actually dragged her to terra firma : — how she has 
gone on since I cannot tell you precisely, because I am in the 
secret ; but the catastrophe is public ; to make her peace with 
her husband, she gives up her friend. Well, that I could have 
pardoned, if she had not been so base as to go over to Mrs. 
Luttridge. Mrs. Luttridge offered (I've seen the letter, and 
Harriot's answer) to bring in Freke, the husband, and to make 
both a county and a family peace, on condition that Harriot 
should give up all connection with Lady Delacour. Mrs. 
Luttridge knew this would provoke me beyond measure, and 
there is nothing she would not do to gratify her mean, 
malevolent passions. She has succeeded for once in her life. 
The blame of the duel, of course, is all thrown upon me. And 
(would you believe it ?) Harriot Freke, I am credibly informed, 
throws all the blame of Lawless's business on me ; nay, hints 
that Lawless's death-bed declaration of my innocence was very 
generous. Oh, the treachery, the baseness of this woman ! And 
it was my fate to hear all this last night at the masquerade. I 
waited, and waited, and looked everywhere for Harriot — she 
was to be the widow Brady, I knew : at last the widow Brady 
made her appearance, and I accosted her with all my usual 
familiarity. The widow was dumb. I insisted upon knowing 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

the cause of this sudden loss of speech. The widow took me 
into another apartment, unmasked, and there I beheld Mr. 
Freke, the husband. I was astonished — had no idea of the 
truth. "Where is Harriot?" I believe, were the first words 
I said. " Gone to the country." " To the country I " " Yes ; 

to shire, with Mrs. Luttridge." — Mrs. Luttridge — odious 

Mrs. Luttridge ! I could scarcely believe my senses. But 
Freke, who always hated me, believing that I led his wife, 
instead of her leading me into mischief, would have enjoyed 
my astonishment and my rage ; so I concealed both, with all 
possible presence of mind. He went on overwhelming me 
with explanations and copies of letters ; and declared it was at 
Mrs. Freke's request he did and said all this, and that he was 

to follow her early the next morning to shire. I broke 

from him, simply wishing him a good journey, and as much 
family peace as his patience merited. He knows that I know 
his wife's history, and though she has no shame, he has some. 
I had the satisfaction to leave him blushing with anger, and I 
supported the character of the comic muse a full hour after- 
wards, to convince him that all their combined malice would 
fail to break my spirit in public : what I suffer in private is 
known only to my own heart' 

As she finished these words. Lady Delacour rose abruptly, 
and hummed a new opera air. Then she retired to her 
boudoir, saying, with an air of levity, to Belinda as she left 
the room — 

* Good-bye, my dear Belinda; I leave you to ruminate 
sweet and bitter thoughts ; to think of the last speech and 
confession of Lady Delacour, or what will interest you much 
more, the first speech and confession of — Clarence Hervey.* 



CHAPTER V 

BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

Lady Delacour's history, and the ^manner in which it was 
related, excited in Belinda's mind astonishment, pity, admira- 
tion, and contempt : astonishment at her inconsistency, pity 

67 



BELINDA 

for her misfortunes, admiration of her talents, and contempt 
for her conduct. To these emotions succeeded the recollection 
of the promise which she had made, not to leave her in her 
last illness at the mercy of an insolent attendant. This promise 
Belinda thought of with terror : she dreaded the sight of sufFer- 
, ings which she knew must end in death : she dreaded the sight 
of that affected gaiety and of that real levity which so ill became 
the condition of a dying woman. She trembled at the idea of 
being under the guidance of one who was so little able to con- 
duct herself : and she could not help blaming her aunt Stanhope 
severely for placing her in such a perilous situation. It was 
obvious that some of Lady Delacour's history must have been 
known to Mrs. Stanhope ; and Belinda, the more she reflected, 
was the more surprised at her aunt's having chosen such a 
chaperon for a young woman just entering into the world. 
When the understanding is suddenly roused and forced to 
exert itself, what a multitude of deductions it makes in a short 
time ! Belinda saw things in a new light ; and for the first 
time in her life she reasoned for herself upon what she saw 
and felt. It is sometimes safer for young people to see than 
to hear of certain characters. At a distance. Lady Delacour 
had appeared to Miss Portman the happiest person in the 
world ; upon a nearer view, she discovered that her ladyship 
was one of the most miserable of human beings. To have 
married her niece to such a man as Lord Delacour, Mrs. 
Stanhope would have thought the most fortunate thing im- 
aginable ; but it was now obvious to Belinda, that neither the 
title of viscountess, nor the pleasure of spending three fortunes, 
could ensure felicity. Lady Delacour confessed, that in the 
midst of the utmost luxury and dissipation she had been a 
constant prey to ennui ; that the want of domestic happiness 
could never be supplied by that public admiration of which she 
was so ambitious ; and that the immoderate indulgence of her 
vanity had led her, by inevitable steps, into follies and im- 
prudences which had ruined her health, and destroyed her 
peace of mind. * If Lady Delacour, with all the advantages 
of wealth, rank, wit, and beauty, has not been able to make 
herself happy in this life of fashionable dissipation,' said 
Belinda to herself, * why should I follow the same course, and 
expect to be more fortunate ? ' 

It is singular, that the very means which Mrs. Stanhope 

68 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

had taken to make a fine lady of her niece tended to produce 
an effect diametrically opposite to what might have been 
expected. The result of Belinda's reflections upon Lady 
Delacour's history was a resolution to benefit by her bad 
example ; but this resolution it was more easy to form than 
to keep. Her ladyship, where she wished to please or to 
govern, had fascinating manners, and could alternately use the 
sarcastic powers of wit, and the fond tone of persuasion, to 
accomplish her purposes. It was Belinda's intention, in 
pursuance of her new plans of life, to spend, whilst she re- 
mained in London, as little money as possible upon super- 
fluities and dress. She had, at her own disposal, only ;£ioo 
per annum, the interest of her fortune ; but besides this, her 
aunt, who was desirous that she should go to court, and make 
a splendid figure there, had sent her a draft on her banker 
for two hundred guineas. * You will, I trust,' said her aunt, 
at the conclusion of the letter, * repay me when you are estab- 
lished in the world ; as I hope and believe, from what I hear 
from Lady Delacour of the power of your charms, you will soon 
be, to the entire satisfaction of all your friends. Pray do not 
neglect to mention my friend Clarence Hervey particularly when 
you write next. I understand from one who is well acquainted 
with him, and who has actually seen his rent-roll, that he has 
a clear ;£ 10,000 a year.' 

Belinda resolved neither to go to court, nor to touch her 
aunt's two hundred guineas ; and she wrote a long letter to 
her, in which she explained her feelings and views at large. 
In this letter she meant to have returned Mrs. Stanhope's 
draught, but her feelings and views changed between the 
writing of this epistle and the going out of the post. Mrs. 
Franks, the milliner, came in the interim, and brought home 
Lady Delacour's beautiful dress : it was not the sight of this, 
however, which changed Belinda's mind; but she could not 
resist Lady Delacour's raillery. 

*Why, my dear,' said her ladyship, after having listened 
to all Miss Portman covdd say about her love of independence, 
and the necessity of economy to preserve that independencSe, 
*all this is prodigiously fine — but shall I translate it into 
plain English ? You were mortally wounded the other night 
by some random reflections of a set of foolish young men — 
Clarence Hervey amongst the number ; and instead of punish- 

69 



BELINDA 

ing them, you sagely and generously determined to punish 
yourself. Then, to convince this youth that you have not a 
thought of those odious nets and cages, that you have no design 
whatever upon his heart, and that he has no manner of influence 
on yours, you very judiciously determine, at the first hint from 
him, to change your dress, your manners, and your character, 
and thus to say to him, in as plain terms as possible — " You 
see, sir, a word to the wise is enough; I understand you 
disapprove of showy dress and coquetry, and therefore, as I 
dressed and coquetted only to please you, now I shall lay aside 
dress and coquetry, since I find that they are not to your 
taste — and I hope, sir, you like my simplicity I " Depend 
upon it, my dear, Clarence Hervey understands simplicity as 
well as you or I do. All this would be vastly well, if he did 
not know that you overheard that conversation ; but as he does 
know it, trust me, he will attribute any sudden change in your 
manners and appearance, right or wrong, to the motives I 
have mentioned. So don't, novice as you are ! set about to 
manoeuvre for yourself. Leave all that to your aunt Stanhope, 
or to me, and then you know your conscience will be all the 
time as white as your hands, — which, by the bye, Clarence 
Hervey, the other day, said were the whitest hands he had 
ever seen. Perhaps all this time you have taken it into your 
head that full dress will not become you ; but I assure you 
that it will — ^you look well in anything — 

* But from the hoop's bewitching round, 
The very shoe has power to wound. 

So come down to Mrs. Franks, and order your birthnight dress 
like a reasonable creature.' 

Like a reasonable creature, Miss Portman followed Lady 
Delacour, and bespoke, or rather let her ladyship bespeak for 
her, fifty guineas' worth of elegance and fashion. * You must 
go to the drawing-room with me next week, and be presented,' 
said Lady Delacour, < and then, as it is the first time, you must 
be elegantly dressed, and you must not wear the same dress on 
the birthnight. So, Mrs. Franks, let this be finished first, as 
fast as you can, and by that time, perhaps, we shall think of 
something superlatively charming for the night of nights.' 

Mrs. Franks departed, and Belinda sighed. *A silver 
penny for your thoughts ! * cried Lady Delacour. * You are 

70 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

thinking that you are like Camilla, and I like Mrs. Mitten. 
Novel reading — as I daresay you have been told by your 
governess, as I was told by mine, and she by hers, I suppose, 
— novel reading for young ladies is the most dangerous 

' Oh, Clarence Hervey, I protest I * cried Lady Delacour, 
as he at this instant entered the room. * Do, pray, Clarence, 
help me out, for the sake of this young lady, with a moral 
sentence against novel reading : but that might go against your 
conscience, or your interest; so we'll spare you. How I 
regret that we had not the charming serpent at the mas- 
querade the other night ! ' 

The moment her ladyship mentioned the masquerade, the 
conversation which had passed at Lady Singleton's came full 
into Clarence Herve/s recollection, and his embarrassment 
was evident — not indeed to Belinda, who had turned away to 
look over some new music that lay upon a stand at the farthest 
end of the room ; and she found this such a wonderfully 
interesting occupation, that she did not for some minutes hear, 
or appear to hear, one word of the conversation which was 
going on between Mr. Hervey and Lady Delacour. At last, 
her ladyship tapped her upon the shoulder, saying, in a playful 
tone, * Miss Portman, I arrest your attention at the suit of 
Clarence Hervey : this gentleman is passionately fond of 
music — to my curse — ^for he never sees my harp but he worries 
me with reproaches for having left off playing upon it. Now 
he has just given me his word that he will not reproach me 
again for a month to come if you will favour us with one air. 
I assure you, Clarence, that Belinda touches a harp divinely — 

she would absolutely charm * * Your ladyship should not 

waste such valuable praise,* interrupted Belinda. * Do you 
forget that Belinda Portman and her accomplishments have 
already been as well advertised as Packwood's razor-strops ? ' 

The manner in which these words were pronounced made 
a great impression upon Clarence Hervey, and he began to 
believe it was possible that a niece of the match-making Mrs. 
Stanhope might not be * a compound of art and affectation.' 

* Though her aunt has advertised her,' said he to himself, 

* she seems to have too much dignity to advertise herself, and 
it would be very unjust to blame her for the faults of another 
person. I will see more of her.' 

Some morning visitors were announced, who for the time 

71 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

suspended Clarence Hervey's reflections : the effect of them, 
however, immediately appeared ; for as his good opinion of 
Belinda increased, his ambition to please her was strongly 
excited. He displayed all his powers of wit and humour ; and 
not only Lady Delacour but everybody present observed, * that 
Mr. Hervey, who was always the most entertaining man in the 
world, this morning surpassed himself, and was absolutely the 
most entertaining man in the universe.' He was mortified, 
notwithstanding ; for he distinctly perceived, that whilst 
Belinda joined with ease and dignity in the general con- 
versation, her manner towards him was grave and reserved. 
The next morning he called earlier than usual; but though 
Lady Delacour was always at home to him, she was then 
unluckily dressing to go to court : he inquired whether Miss 
Portman would accompany her ladyship, and he learned from 
his friend Marriott that she was not to be presented this day, 
because Mrs. Franks had not brought home her dress. Mr. 
Hervey called again two hours afterwards. — Lady Delacour 
was gone to court. He asked for Miss Portman. * Not at 
home,' was the mortifying answer ; though, as he had passed 
by the windows, he had heard the delightful sound of her harp. 
He walked up and down the square impatiently, till he saw 
Lady Delacour's carriage appear. 

* The drawing-room has lasted an unconscionable time this 
morning,* said he, as he handed her ladyship out of her coach. 
* Am not I the most virtuous of virtuous women,' said Lady 
Delacour, * to go to court such a day as this ? But,' whispered 
she, as she went upstairs, Mike all other amazingly good 
people, I have amazingly good reasons for being good. The 
queen is soon to give a charming breakfast at Frogmore, and I 
am paying my court with all my might, in hopes of being asked ; 
for Belinda must see one of their galas before we leave town, 
that I'm determined upon. — But where is she ? ' * Not at 
home,' said Clarence, smiling. * Oh, not at home is nonsense, 
you know. Shine out, appear, be found, my lovely Zara 1 ' 
cried Lady Delacour, opening the library door. * Here she is 
— ^what doing I know not — studying Hervey's Meditations on 
the Tombsy I should guess, by the sanctification of her looks. 
If you be not totally above all sublunary considerations, admire 
my lilies of the valley, and let me give you a lecture, not upon 
heads, or upon hearts, but on what is of much more con- 

•73 



BELINDA 

sequence, upon hoops. Everybody wears hoops, but how few 
— ^'tis a melancholy consideration — how very few can manage 

them I There's my friend Lady C ; in an elegant undress 

she passes for very genteel, but put her into a hoop and she 
looks as pitiable a figure, as much a prisoner, and as little able 
to walk, as a child in a go-cart. She gets on, I grant you, and 
so does the poor child; but getting on, you know, is not 
walking. Oh, Clarence, I wish you had seen the two Lady R.*s 
sticking close to one another, their father pushing them on 
together, like two decanters in a bottle -coaster, with such 
magnificent diamond labels round their necks 1 ' 

Encouraged by Clarence Herve/s laughter. Lady Delacour 
went on to mimic what she called the hoop awkwardness of all 
her acquaintance ; and if these could have failed to divert 
Belinda, it was impossible for her to be serious when she heard 
Clarence Hervey declare that he was convinced he could 
manage a hoop as well as any woman in England, except Lady 
Delacour. 

•Now here,' said he, Ms the purblind dowager. Lady 
Boucher, just at the door. Lady Delacour ; she would not 
know my face, she would not see my beard, and I will bet 
fifty guineas that I come into a room in a hoop, and that she 
does not find me out by my air — that I do not betray myself, 
in short, by my masculine awkwardness.' 

* I hold you to your word, Clarence,' cried Lady Delacour. 
* They have let the purblind dowager in ; I hear her on the 
stairs. Here — through this way you can go : as you do every- 
thing quicker than anybody else in the world, you will cer- 
tainly be full dressed in a quarter of an hour ; I'll engage to 
keep the dowager in scandal for that time. Go I Marriott has 
old hoops and old finery of mine, and you have all-powerful in- 
fluence, I know, with Marriott : so go and use it, and let us see 
you in all your glory — ^though I vow I tremble for my fifty 
guineas.' 

Lady Delacour kept the dowager in scandal, according to 
her engagement, for a good quarter of an hour ; then the 
dresses at the drawing-room took up another quarter; and, 
at last, the dowager began to give an account of sundry 
wonderful cures that had been performed, to her certain 
knowledge, by her favourite concentrated extract or anima of 
quassia. She entered into the history of the negro slave 

74 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

named Quassi, who discovered this medical wood, which he kept 
a close secret till Mr. Daghlberg, a magistrate of Surinam, 
wormed it out of him, brought a branch of the tree to Europe, 
and communicated it to the great Linnaeus — when Clarence 
Hervey was announced by the title of ' The Countess de' 
Pomenars.* 

* An dmigrSe — a charming woman ! ' whispered Lady 
Delacour ; * she was to have been at the drawing-room to-day 
but for a blunder of mine : ready dressed she was, and I 
didn't call for her ! Ah, Mad. de Pomenars, I am actually 
ashamed to see you,' continued her ladyship ; and she went 
forward to meet Clarence Hervey, who really made his entrde 
with very composed assurance and grace. He managed his 
hoop with such skill and dexterity, that he well deserved the 
praise of being a universal genius. The Countess de Pomenars 
spoke French and broken English incomparably well, and she 
made out that she was descended from the Pomenars of the 
time of Mad. de Sevignd : she said that she had in her 
possession several original letters of Mad. de Sevigne, and a 
lock of Mad. de Grignan's fine hair. 

* I have sometimes fancied, but I believe it is only my fancy,* 
said Lady Delacour, * that this young lady,' turning to Belinda, 
* is not unlike your Mad. de Grignan. I have seen a picture 
of her at Strawberry Hill.' 

Mad. de Pomenars acknowledged that there was a resem- 
blance, but added, that it was flattery in the extreme to Mad. 
de Grignan to say so. 

* It would be a sin, undoubtedly, to waste flattery upon the 
dead, my dear countess,' said Lady Delacour; *but here, 
without flattery to the living, as you have a lock of Mad. de 
Grignan's hair, you can tell us whether la belle chevelure^ of 
which Mad. de Sevign^ talked so much, was anything to be 
compared to my Belinda's.* As she spoke. Lady Delacour, 
before Belinda was aware of her intentions, dexterously let 
down her beautiful tresses ; and the Countess de Pomenars 
was so much struck at the sight, that she was incapable of 
paying the necessary compliments. * Nay, touch it,' said 
Lady Delacour — *it is so fine and so soft' 

At this dangerous moment her ladyship artfully let drop the 
comb. Clarence Hervey suddenly stooped to pick it up, 
totally forgetting his hoop and his character. He threw down 

75 



Ht thmi dimm Iht m 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

the music-stand with his hoop. Lady Delacour exclaimed 

* Bravissima ! ' and burst out a-laughing. Lady Boucher, in 
amazement, looked from one to another for an explanation, 
and was a considerable time before, as she said, she could 
believe her own eyes. Clarence Hervey acknowledged he had 
lost his bet, joined in the laugh, and declared that fifty guineas 
was too little to pay for the sight of the finest hair that he had 
ever beheld. * I declare he deserves a lock of la belle 
ckevelure for that speech. Miss Portman,* cried Lady Delacour ; 

* PU appeal to all the world — Mad. de Pomenars must have a 
lock to measure with Mad. de Grignan's? Come, a second^ 
rape of the lock, Belinda.' 

Fortunately for Belinda, *the glittering forfex' was not 
immediately produced, as fine ladies do not now, as in former 
times, carry any such useless implements about with them. 

Such was the modest, graceful dignity of Miss Portman's 
manners, that she escaped without even the charge of prudery. 
She retired to her own apartment as soon as she could. 

*She passes on in unblenched majesty,' said Lady 
Delacour. 

* She is really a charming woman,' said Clarence Hervey, in 
a low voice, to Lady Delacour, drawing her into a recessed 
window : he in the same low voice continued, * Could I obtain 
a private audience of a few minutes when your ladyship is at 

leisure ? — I have ' * I am never at leisure,' interrupted Lady 

Delacour ; * but if you have anything particular to say to me — 
as I guess you have, by my skill in human nature — come here 
to my concert to-night, before the rest of the world. Wait 
patiently in the music-room, and perhaps I may grant you a 
private audience, as you had the grace not to call it a tite-^- 
tSte, In the meantime, my dear Countess de Pomenars, had 
we not better take off our hoops ? ' 

In the evening, Clarence Hervey was in the music-room a 
considerable time before Lady Delacour appeared : how 
patiently he waited is not known to any one but himself. 

* Have not I given you time to compose a charming speech ? ' 
said Lady Delacour as she entered the room ; < but make it as 
short as you can, unless you wish that Miss Portman should 
hear it, for she will be downstairs in three minutes.' 

* In one word, then, my dear Lady Delacour, can you, and 
will you, make my peace with Miss Portman ? — I am much 

77 



BELINDA 

concerned about that foolish razor-strop dialogue which she 
overheard at Lady Singleton's.' 

* You are concerned that she overheard it, no doubt.' 

* No,* said Clarence Hervey, * I am rejoiced that she over- 
heard it, since it has been the means of convincing me of my 
mistake ; but I am concerned that I had the presumption and 
injustice to judge of Miss Portman so hastily. I am convinced 
that, though she is a niece of Mrs. Stanhope's, she has dignity 
of mind and simplicity of character. Will you, my dear Lady 
Delacour, tell her so ? ' 

* Stay,' interrupted Lady Delacour ; * let me get it by heart. 
I should have made a terrible bad messenger of the gods and 
goddesses, for I never in my life could, like Iris, repeat a 
message in the same words in which it was delivered to me. 
Let me see — " Dignity of mind and simplicity of character," 
was not it ? May not I say at once, ^* My dear Belinda, 
Clarence Hervey desires me to tell you that he is convinced 
you are an angel ? " That single word angel is so expressive, 
so comprehensive, so comprehensible, it contains, believe me, 
all that can be said or imagined on these occasions, de part et 
£p autre J* 

* But,' said Mr. Hervey, * perhaps Miss Portman has heard 
the song of — 

* What know we of angels ? — 
I spake it in jest' 

* Then you are not in jest, but in downright sober earnest ? 
— Ha ! ' said Lady Delacour, with an arch look, * I did not 
know it was already come to this with you.' 

And her ladyship, turning to her pianoforte, played — 

There was a young man in Ballinacrasy, 
Who wanted a wife to make him xmasy^ 
And thus in gentle strains he spoke her, 
Arrah, tAW you marry me, my dear Ally Croker ? 

* No, no,' exclaimed Clarence, laughing, • it is not come to 
that with me yet, Lady Delacour, I promise you ; but is not it 
possible to say that a young lady has dignity of mind and 
simplicity of character without having or suggesting any 
thoughts of marriage ? ' 

<You make a most proper, but not sufficiently emphatic 
difference between having or suggesting such thoughts,' said 

78 



BELINDA 

Lady Delacour. *A gentleman sometimes finds it for his 
interest, his honour, or his pleasure, to suggest what he would 
not for the world promise, — I mean perform.' 

*A scoundrel,' cried Clarence Hervey, *not a gentleman, 
may find it for his honour, or his interest, or his pleasure, to 
promise what he would not perform ; but I am not a scoundrel. 
I never made any promise to man or woman that I did not 
keep faithfully. I am not a swindler in love.' 

' And yet,* said Lady Delacour, * you would have no scruple 
to trifle or flatter a woman out of her heart.' 

^Cela est selonP said Clarence, smiling; *a fair exchange, 
you know, is no robbery. When a fine woman robs me of my 
heart, surely Lady Delacour could not expect that I should 
make no attempt upon hers.' — * Is this part of my message to 
Miss Portman?' said Lady Delacour. *As your ladyship 
pleases,' said Clarence ; * I trust entirely to your discretion.' 
- * Why, I really have a great deal of discretion,' said Lady 
Delacour ; * but you trust too much to it when you expect that 
I should execute, both with propriety and success, the delicate 
commission of telling a young lady, who is under my protec- 
tion, that a young gentleman, who is a professed admirer of 
mine, is in love with her, but has no thoughts, and wishes to 
suggest no thoughts, of marriage.' 

* In love 1 ' exclaimed Clarence Hervey ; * but when did I 
ever use the expression ? In speaking of Miss Portman, I 
simply expressed esteem and ad ' 

<No additions,' said Lady Delacour; * content yourself 
with esteem — simply, — and Miss Portman is safe, and you 
too, I presume. Apropos ; pray, Clarence, how do your 
esteem and admiration (I may go as far as that, may not I ?) 
of Miss Portman agree with your admiration of Lady 
Delacour?' 

* Perfectly well,' replied Clarence ; ' for all the world must 
be sensible that Clarence Hervey is a man of too much taste 
to compare a country novice in wit and accomplishments to 
Lady Delacour. He might, as men of genius sometimes do, 
look forward to the idea of forming a country novice for a 
wife. A man must marry some time or other — but my hour, 
thank Heaven, is not come yet.' 

* Thank Heaven I ' said Lady Delacour ; * for you know a 
married man is lost to the world of fashion and gallantry.' 

80 



BIRTHDAY DRESSES 

* Not more so, I should hope, than a married woman,' said 
Clarence Hervey. Here a loud knocking at the door 
announced the arrival of company to the concert. * You will 
make my peace, you promise me, with Miss Portman,' cried 
Clarence eagerly. 

*Yes, I will make your peace, and you shall see Belinda 
smile upon you once more, upon condition,' continued Lady 
Delacour, speaking] very quickly, as if she was hurried by the 
sound of people coming upstairs — *but we'll talk of that 
another time.' 

*Nay, nay, my dear Lady Delacour, now, now,' said 
Clarence, seizing her hand. — ' Upon condition ! upon what 
condition ? ' 

* Upon condition that you do a little job for me — indeed for 
Belinda. She is to go with me to the birthnight, and she has 
often hinted to me that our horses are shockingly shabby for 
people of our condition. I know she wishes that upon such 
an occasion — her first appearance at court, you know — we 
should go in style. Now my dear positive lord has said he 
will not let us have a pair of the handsomest horses I ever 
saw, which are at Tattersall's, and on which Belinda, I know, 
has secretly set her heart, as I have openly, in vain.' 

* Your ladyship and Miss Portman cannot possibly set your 
hearts on anything in vain — especially on anything that it is 
in the power of Clarence Hervey to procure. Then,' added he, 
gallantly kissing her hand, * may I thus seal my treaty of peace?' 

* What audacity ! — don't you see these people coming in ? ' 
cried Lady Delacour ; and she withdrew her hand, but with no 
great precipitation. She was evidently, *at this moment, as 
in all the past,* neither afraid nor ashamed that Mr. Hervey's 
devotions to her should be paid in public. With much address 
she had satisfied herself as to his views with respect to Belinda. 
She was convinced that he had no immediate thoughts of 
matrimony J but that if he were condemned to marry, Miss 
Portman would be his wife. As this did not interfere with 
her plans, Lady Delacour was content. 



8i 



BELINDA 



CHAPTER VI 
WAYS AND MEANS 

When Lady Delacour repeated to Miss Portman the message 
about * simplicity of mind and dignity of character,' she frankly 
said — 

< Belinda, notwithstanding all this, observe, Vm determined 
to retain Clarence Hervey among the number of my public wor- 
shippers during my life — which you know cannot last long. 
After I am gone, my dear, he'll be all your own, and of that I 
give you joy. Posthumous fame is a silly thing, but posthumous 
jealousy detestable.' 

There was one part of the conversation between Mr. Hervey 
and her ladyship which she, in her great discretion, did not 
immediately repeat to Miss Portman — that part which related 
to the horses. In this transaction Belinda had no farther share 
than having once, when her ladyship had the handsome horses 
brought for her to look at, assented to the opinion that they 
were the handsomest horses she ever beheld. Mr. Hervey, 
however gallantly he replied to her ladyship, was secretly 
vexed to find that Belinda had so little delicacy as to permit 
her name to be employed in such a manner. He repented 
having used the improper expression oi dignity ofmindy and he 
relapsed into his former opinion of Mrs. Stanhope's niece. A 
relapse is always more dangerous than the first disease. He 
sent home the horses to Lady Delacour the next day, and 
addressed Belinda, when he met her, with the air of a man of 
gallantry, who thought that his peace had been cheaply made. 
But in proportion as his manners became more familiar, hers 
grew more reserved. Lady Delacour rallied her upon her 
prudery^ but in vain. Clarence Hervey seemed to think that 
her ladyship had not fulfilled her part of the bargain. — * Is not 
smiling^ said he, * the epithet always applied to peace ? yet I 
have not been able to obtain one smile from Miss Portman 
since I have been promised peace.' Embarrassed by Mr. 
Herve/s reproaches, and provoked to find that Belinda was 
proof against all her raillery, Lady Delacour grew quite ill- 

82 



WAYS AND MEANS 

humoured towards hen Belinda, unconscious of having given 
any just cause of offence, was unmoved ; and her ladyship's 
embarrassment increased. At last, resuming all her former 
appearance of friendship and confidence, she suddenly exclaimed 
one night after she had flattered Belinda into high spirits — 

* Do you know, my dear, that I have been so ashamed of 
myself for this week past, that I have hardly dared to look you 
in the face. I am sensible I was downright rude and cross to 
you one day, and ever since I have been penitent ; and, as all 
penitents are, very stupid and disagreeable, I am sure : but tell 
me you forgive my caprice, and Lady Delacour will be herself 
again.' 

It was not difHcult to obtain Belinda's fot^giveness. 

* Indeed,' continued Lady Delacour, * you are too good ; but 
then in my own justification I must say, that I have more things 
to make me ill-humoured than most people have. Now, my 
dear, that most obstinate of human beings. Lord Delacour, has 
reduced me to the most terrible situation — I have made Clarence 
Hervey buy a pair of horses for me, and I cannot make my 
Lord Delacour pay for them ; but I forgot to tell you that I 
took your name — not in vain indeed — in this business. I told 
Clarence, that upon condition he would do this jod for me, you 
would forgive him for all his sins, and — nay, my dear, why do 
you look as if I had stabbed you to the heart ? — after all, I 
only drew upon your pretty mouth for a few smiles. Pray let 
me see whether it has actually forgotten Aow to smile.' 

Belinda was too much vexed at this instant to understand 
raillery. She was inspired by anger with unwonted courage, 
and, losing all fear of Lady Delacour's wit, she very seriously 
expostulated with her ladyship upon having thus used her name 
without her consent or knowledge. Belinda felt she was now 
in danger of being led into a situation which might be fatal 
to her reputation and her happiness ; and she was the more 
surprised at her ladyship, when she recollected the history 
she had so lately heard of Harriot Freke and Colonel Lawless. 

< You cannot but be sensible. Lady Delacour,' said Belinda, 
* that after the contempt I have heard Mr. Hervey express for 
match-making with Mrs. Stanhope's nieces, I should degrade 
myself by any attempts to attract his attention. No wit, no 
eloquence, can change my opinion upon this subject — I cannot 
endure contempt.' 

83 



BELINDA 

* Very likely — no doubt * — ^interrupted Lady Delacour ; * but 
if you would only open your eyes, which heroines make it a 
principle never to do — or else there would be an end of the 
novel — if you would only open your eyes, you would see that 
this man is in love with you ; and whilst you are afraid of his 
contempt, he is a hundred times more afraid of yours ; and as 
long as you are each of you in such fear of you know not what, 
you must excuse me if I indulge myself in a little wholesome 
raillery.' — Belinda smiled. — * There now; one such smile as 
that for Clarence Hervey, and I'm out of debt and danger,' 
said Lady Delacour. 

* O Lady Delacour, why, why will you try your power over 
me in this manner ? ' said Belinda. * You know that I ought 
not to be persuaded to do what I am conscious is wrong. But 
a few days ago you told me yourself that Mr. Hervey is — is not 
a marrying man ; and a woman, of your penetration must see 
that — that he only means to flirt with me. I am not a match 
for Mr. Hervey in any respect. He is a man of wit and gallantry 
— I am unpractised in the ways of the world. I was not 
educated by my aunt Stanhope — I have only been with her a 
few years — I wish I had never been with her in my life.' 

* I'll take care Mr. Hervey shall know that,' said Lady 
Delacour ; * but in the meantime I do think any fair appraiser 
of delicate distresses would decide that I am, all the circum- 
stances considered, more to be pitied at this present moment 
than you are : for the catastrophe of the business evidently is, 
that I must pay two hundred guineas for the horses somehow 
or other.' 

* I can pay for them,' exclaimed Belinda, * and will with the 
greatest pleasure. I will not go to the birthnight — my dress 
is not bespoke. Will two hundred guineas pay for the horses ? 
Oh, take the money — pay Mr. Hervey, dear Lady Delacour, 
and it will all be right.' 

' You are a charming girl,' said Lady Delacour, embracing 
her ; * but how can I answer for it to my conscience, or to your 
aunt Stanhope, if you don't appear on the birthnight ? That 
cannot be, my dear ; besides, you know Mrs. Franks will send 
home your drawing-room dress to-day, and it would be so 
foolish to be presented for nothing — not to go to the birthnight 
afterwards. If you say a you must say b? 

* Then,' said Belinda, * I will not go to the drawing-room.' 

84 



WAYS AND MEANS 

— * Not go, my dear ! What I throw away fifty guineas for 
nothing ! Really I never saw any one so lavish of her money, 
and so economic of her smiles.* 

* Surely,* said Miss Portman, * it is better for me to throw 
away fifty guineas, poor as I am, than to hazard the happiness 
of my life. Your ladyship knows that if I say a to Mr. Hervey, 
I must say b. No, no, my dear Lady Delacour ; here is the 
draft for two hundred guineas : pay Mr. Hervey, for Heaven's 
sake, and there is an end of the business.' 

* What a positive child it is ! Well, then, it shall not be 
forced to say the a, b, c, of Cupid's alphabet to that terrible 
pedagogue, Clarence Hervey, till it pleases : but seriously. Miss 
Portman, I am concerned that you will make me take this 
draft : it is absolutely robbing you. But Lord Delacour's 
the person you must blame — it is all his obstinacy : having 
once said he would not pay for the horses, he would see them 
and me and the whole human race expire before he would 
change his silly mind. — Next month I shall have it in my 
power, my dear, to repay you with a thousand thanks ; and in 
a few months more we shall have another birthday, and a new 
star shall appear in the firmament of fashion, and it shall be 
called Belinda. In the meantime, my dear, upon second 
thoughts, perhaps we can get Mrs. Franks to dispose of your 
drawing-room dress to some person of taste, and you may keep 
your fifty guineas for the next occasion. PU see what can be 
done. — Adieu ! a thousand thanks, silly child as you are.' 

Mrs. Franks at first declared that it would be an impossi- 
bility to dispose of Miss Portman's dress, though she would do 
anything upon earth to oblige Lady Delacour ; however, ten 
guineas made everything possible. Belinda rejoiced at having, 
as she thought, extricated herself at so cheap a rate ; and well 
pleased with her own conduct, she wrote to her aunt Stanhope, 
to inform her of as much of the transaction as she could dis- 
close, without betraying Lady Delacour. ' Her ladyship,' she 
said, 'had immediate occasion for two hundred guineas, and 
to accommodate her with this sum she had given up the idea of 
going to court.' 

The tenor of Miss Portman's letter will be sufficiently ap- 
parent from Mrs. Stanhope's answer. 



8s 



BELINDA 

MRS. STANHOPE TO MISS PORTMAN. 

•Bath, 2nd June, 

* I cannot but feel some astonishment, Belinda, at your very 
extraordinary conduct, and more extraordinary letter. What 
you can mean by principles and delicacy I own I don*t pre- 
tend to understand, when I see you not only forget the respect 
that is due to the opinions and advice of the aunt to whom 
you owe everything ; but you take upon yourself to lavish her 
money, without common honesty. I send you two hundred 
guineas, and desire you to go to court — ^you lend my two 
hundred guineas to Lady Delacour, and inform me that as you 
think yourself bound in honour to her ladyship, you cannot 
explain all the particulars to me, otherwise you are sure I 
should approve of the reasons which have influenced you. 
Mighty satisfactory, truly ! And then, to mend the matter, 
you tell me that you do not think that in your situation in life 
it is necessary that you should go to court. Your opinions and 
mine, you add, differ in many points. Then I must say that 
you are as ungrateful as you are presumptuous ; for I am not 
such a novice in the affairs of the world as to be ignorant that 
when a young lady professes to be of a different opinion from 
her friends, it is only a prelude to something worse. She 
begins by saying that she is determined to think for herself, and 
she is determined to act for herself — ^and then it is all over 
with her ; and all the money, etc., that has been spent upon 
her education is so much dead loss to her friends. 

* Now I look upon it that a young girl who has been brought 
up, and brought forward in the world as you have been by 
connections, is bound to be guided implicitly by them in all 
her conduct. What should you think of a man who, after he 
had been brought into parliament by a fHend, would go and 
vote against that friend's opinions ? You do not want sense, 
Belinda — you perfectly understand me ; and consequently 
your errors I must impute to the defect of your heart, and not 
of your judgment I see that, on account of the illness of the 
princess, the king's birthday is put off for a fortnight. If 

you manage properly, and if (unknown to Lady , who 

certainly has not used you well in this business, and to whom 

therefore you owe no peculiar delicacy) you make Lord 

sensible how much your aunt Stanhope is disappointed and 

86 



WAYS AND MEANS 

displeased (as I most truly am) at your intention of missing this 
opportunity of appearing at court ; it is ten to one but his lord- 
ship — ^who has not made it a point to refuse your request, I 
suppose — will pay you your two hundred guineas. You of 
course will make proper acknowledgments ; but at the same 
time entreat that his lordship will not commit you with his 
lady, as she might be offended at your application to him. I 
understand from an intimate acquaintance of his, that you are 
a great favourite of his lordship ; and though an obstinate, he 
is a good-natured man, and can have no fear of being governed 
by you ; consequently he will do just as you would have him. 
' Then you have an opportunity of representing the thing in 

the prettiest manner imaginable to Lady , as an instance 

of her lord's consideration for her: so you will oblige all 
parties (a very desirable thing) without costing yourself one 
penny, and go to the birthnight after all : and this only by 
using a little address, without which nothing is to be done in 
this world. — Yours affectionately (if you follow my advice), 

« Selina Stanhope.* 

Belinda, though she could not, consistently with what she 
thought right, follow the advice so artfully given to her in this 
epistle, was yet extremely concerned to find that she had in- 
curred the displeasure of an aunt to whom she thought herself 
under obligations. She resolved to lay by as much as she 
possibly could, from the interest of her fortune, and to repay 
the two hundred guineas to Mrs. Stanhope. She was conscious 
that she had no right to lend this money to Lady Delacour, if 
her aunt had expressly desired that she should spend it only on 
her court-dress ; but this had not distinctly been expressed when 
Mrs. Stanhope sent her niece the draft. That lady was in the 
habit of speaking and writing ambiguously, so that even those 
who knew her best were frequently in doubt how to interpret 
her words. Yet she was extremely displeased when her hints 
and her half-expressed wishes were not understood. Beside 
the concern she felt from the thoughts of having displeased 
her aunt, Belinda was both vexed and mortified to perceive 
that in Clarence Hervey's manner towards her there was not 
the change which she had expected that her conduct would 
naturally produce. 

One day she was surprised at his reproaching her for caprice 

87 



BELINDA 

in having given up her intentions of going to court. Lady 
Delacour's embarrassment whilst Mr. Hervey spoke, Belinda 
attributed to her ladyship's desire that Clarence should not know 
that she had been obliged to borrow the money to pay him for 
the horses. Belinda thought that this was a species of mean 
pride ; but she made it a point to keep her ladyship's secret — 
she therefore slightly answered Mr. Hervey, * that she wondered 
that a man who was so well acquainted with the female sex 
should be surprised at any instance of caprice from a woman.* 
The conversation then took another turn, and whilst they were 
talking of indifferent subjects, in came Lord Delacour's man, 
Champfort, with Mrs. Stanhope's draft for two hundred 
guineas, which the coachmaker's man had just brought back 
because Miss Portman had forgotten to endorse it. Belinda's 
astonishment was almost as great at this instant as Lady 
Delacour's confusion. 

* Come this way, my dear, and we'll find you a pen and ink. 
You need not wait, Champfort ; but tell the man to wait for 
the draft — Miss Portman will endorse it immediately.' — And 
she took Belinda into another room. 

* Good Heavens 1 Has not this money been paid to Mr. 
Hervey ? ' exclaimed Belinda. 

* No, my dear ; but I will take all the blame upon myself, 
or, which will do just as well for you, throw it all upon my 
better half. My Lord Delacour would not pay for my new 
carriage. The coachmaker, insolent animal, would not let it 
out of his yard without two hundred guineas in ready money. 
Now you know I had the horses, and what could I do with 
the horses without the carriage ? Clarence Hervey, I knew, 
could wait for his money better than a poor devil of a coach- 
maker ; so I paid the coachmaker, and a few months sooner 
or later can make no difference to Clarence, who rolls in gold, 
my dear — if that will be any comfort to you, as I hope it 
will.' 

* Oh, what will he think of me ! ' said Belinda. 

* Nay, what will he think of mey child ! ' 

* Lady Delacour,' said Belinda, in a firmer tone than she 
had ever before spoken, ' I must insist upon this draft being 
given to Mr. Hervey.' 

* Absolutely impossible, my dear. — I cannot take it from the 
coachmaker ; he has sent home the carriage : the thing's done, 

88 



THE SERPENTINE RIVER 

and cannot be undone. But come, since I know nothing else 
will make you easy, I will take this mighty favour from Mr. 
Hervey entirely upon my own conscience : you cannot object 
to that, for you are not the keeper of my conscience. I will 
tell Clarence the whole business, and do you honour due, my 
dear : so endorse the cheque, whilst I go and sound both the 
praises of your dignity of mind, and simplicity of character, 
etc. etc. etc. etc' 

Her ladyship broke away from Belinda, returned to Clarence 
Hervey, and told the whole affair with that peculiar grace with 
which she knew how to make a good story of a bad one. 
Clarence was as favourable an auditor at this time as she 
could possibly have found ; for no human being could value 
money less than he did, and all sense of her ladyship's 
meanness was lost in his joy at discovering that Belinda was 
worthy of his esteem. Now he felt in its fullest extent all the 
power she had over his heart, and he was upon the point of 
declaring his attachment to her, when malheureusement Sir 
Philip Baddely and Mr. Rochfort announced themselves by 
the noise they made on the staircase. These were the young 
men who had spoken in such a contemptuous manner at Lady 
Singleton's of the match-making Mrs. Stanhope and her 
nieces. Mr. Hervey was anxious that they should not 
penetrate into the state of his heart, and he concealed his 
emotion by instantly assuming that kind of rattling gaiety 
which always delighted his companions, who were ever in 
want of some one to set their stagnant ideas in motion. At 
last they insisted upon carrying Clarence away with them to 
taste some wines for Sir Philip Baddely. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SERPENTINE RIVER 

In his way to St James's Street, where the wine-merchant 
lived. Sir Philip Baddely picked up several young men of his 
acquaintance, who were all eager to witness a trial of taste^ of 
epicurean taste, between the baronet and Clarence Hervey. 

89 



BELINDA 

Amongst his other accomplishments our hero piqued himself 
upon the exquisite accuracy of his organs of taste. He neither 
loved wine, nor was he fond of eating ; but at fine dinners, 
with young men who were real epicures, Hervey gave himself 
the airs of a connoisseur, and asserted superiority even in 
judging of wine and sauces. Having gained immortal honour 
at an entertainment by gravely protesting that some turtle 
would have been excellent if it had not been done a bubble too 
mucky he presumed, elate as he was with the applauses of the 
company, to assert, that no man in England had a more 
correct taste than himself. — Sir Philip Baddely could not 
passively submit to this arrogance ; he loudly proclaimed, that 
though he would not dispute Mr. Herve/s judgment as far as 
eating was concerned, yet he would defy him as a connoisseur 
in wines, and he offered to submit the competition to any 
eminent wine-merchant in London, and to some common friend 
of acknowledged taste and experience'. — Mr. Rochfort was 
chosen as the common friend of acknowledged taste and ex- 
perience ; and a fashionable wine-merchant was pitched upon 
to decide with him the merits of these candidates for baccha- 
nalian fame. Sir Philip, who^was just going to furnish his 
cellars, was a person of importance to the wine-merchant, who 
produced accordingly his choicest treasures. Sir Philip and 
Clarence tasted of all in their turns ; Sir Philip with real, and 
Clarence with affected gravity; and they delivered their 
opinions of the positive and comparative merits of each. The 
wine-merchant evidently, as Mr. Hervey thought, leaned to- 
wards Sir Philip. * Upon my word. Sir Philip, you are right — 
that wine is the best I have — ^you certainly have a most dis- 
criminating taste,' said the complaisant wine-merchant. 

* V\\ tell you what,' cried Sir Philip, * the thing is this : by 
Jove I now, there's no possibility now — no possibility now, by 
Jove I of imposing upon me.' 

/Then,' said Clarence Hervey, * would you engage to tell 
the differences between these two wines ten times running, 
blindfold?' 

* Ten times ! that's nothing,' replied Sir Philip t * yes, fifty 
times, I would, by Jove ! ' 

But when it came to the trial. Sir Philip had nothing left 
but oaths in his own favour. Clarence Hervey was victorious ; 
and his sense of the importance of this victory was much in- 

90 



THE SERPENTINE RIVER 

creased by the fumes of the wine, which began to operate 
upon his brain. His triumph was, as he said it ought to be, 
bacchanalian : he laughed and sang with anacreontic spirit, 
and finished by declaring that he deserved to be crowned with 
vine-leaves. 

* Dine with me, Clarence,* said Rochfort, * and we'll crown 
you with three times three ; and,' whispered he to Sir Philip, 
< we'll have another trial after dinner.' 

*But as it's not near dinner-time yet — what shall we do 
with ourselves till dinner-time?' said Sir Philip, yawning 
pathetically. 

Clarence not being used to drink in a morning, though all 
his companions were, was much affected by the wine, and 
Rochfort proposed that they should take a turn in the park to 
cool Harvey's head. To Hyde Park they repaired ; Sir Philip 
boasting, all the way they walked, of the superior strength of 
his head. 

Clarence protested that his own was stronger than any 
man's in England, and observed, that at this instant he walked 
better than any person in company. Sir Philip Baddely not 
excepted. Now Sir Philip Baddely was a noted pedestrian, 
and he immediately challenged our hero to walk with him for 
any money he pleased. * Done,' said Clarence, * for ten 
guineas — for any money you please : ' and instantly they set 
out to walk, as Rochfort cried 'one, two, three, and away; 
keep the path, and whichever reaches that elm tree first 
has it.' 

They were exactly even for some yards, then Clarence got 
ahead of Sir Philip, and he reached the elm tree first ; but, as 
he waved his hat, exclaiming, ' Clarence has won the day,' Sir 
Philip came up with his companions, and coolly informed him 
that he had lost his wager — < Lost I lost ! lost ! Clarence — 
fairly lost.' 

* Didn't I reach the tree first ? ' said Clarence. 

* Yes,' answered his companions ; * but you didn't keep the 
path. You turned out of the way when you met that crowd of 
children yonder.' 

* Now /,' said Sir Philip, * dashed fairly through them — 
kept the path, and won my bet.' 

* But,' said Hervey, ' would you have had me run over that 
little child, who was stooping down just in my way ? ' 

91 



BELINDA 

*// not I,* said Sir Philip; *but I would have you go 
through with your civility : if a man will be polite, he must 
pay for his politeness sometimes. — You said you'd lay me any 
money I pleased, recollect — ^now Pm very moderate — and as 
you are a particular friend, Clarence, Pll only take your ten 
guineas.' 

A loud laugh from his companions provoked Clarence; 
they were glad <to have a laugh against him,' because he 
excited universal envy by the real superiority of his talents, 
and by his perpetually taking the lead in those trifles which 
were beneath his ambition, and exactly suited to engage the 
attention of his associates. 

* Be it so, and welcome ; Pll pay ten guineas for having 
better manners than any of you,' cried Hervey, laughing ; 
* but remember, though Pve lost this bet, I don't give up my 
pedestrian fame. — Sir Philip, there are no women to throw 
golden apples in my way now, and no children for me to 
stumble over : I dare you to another trial — double or quit.' 

* Pm off, by Jove ! ' said Sir Philip. * Pm too hot, damme, 
to walk with you any more — but Pm your man if you've a 
mind for a swim — here's the Serpentine river, Clarence — hey ? 
damn it ! — ^hey ? ' 

Sir Philip and all his companions knew that Clarence had 
never learned to swim. 

* You may wink at one another, as wisely as you please,' 
said Clarence, * but come on, my boys — I am your man for a 
swim — a hundred guineas upon it I 

'Darest thou, Rochfort, now 
Leap in with me into this weedy flood, 
And swim to yonder point ? ' 

and instantly Hervey, who had in his confused head some 
recollection of an essay of Dr. FranUin on swimming, by 
which he fancied that he could ensure at once his safety and 
his fame, threw off his coat and jumped into the river — ^luckily 
he was not in boots. Rochfort, and all the other young men 
stood laughing by the river-side. 

* Who the devil are these two that seem to be making up 
to us ? ' said Sir Philip, looking at two gentlemen who were 
coming towards them ; * St George, hey ? you know every- 
body.' 

92 



THE SERPENTINE RIVER 

* The foremost is Percival, of Oakly Park, I think, *pon my 
honour,* replied Mr. St George, and he then began to settle 
how many thousands a year Mr. Percival was worth. This 
point was not decided when the gentlemen came up to the 
spot where Sir Philip was standing. 

The child for whose sake Clarence Hervey had lost his bet 
was Mr. PercivaPs, and he came to thank him for his civility. — 
The gentleman who accompanied Mr. Percival was an old 
friend of Clarence Herve/s ; he had met him abroad, but had 
not seen him for some years. 

* Pray, gentlemen,' said he to Sir Philip and his party, * is 
Mr. Clarence Hervey amongst you ? I think I saw him pass 
by me just now.' 

*Damn it, yes — where is Clary, though?' exclaimed Sir 
Philip, suddenly recollecting himself. — Clarence Hervey at this 
instant was drowning : he had got out of his depth, and had 
struggled in vain to recover himself. 

* Curse me, if it's not all over with Clary,' continued Sir 
Philip. * Do any of you see his head anywhere ? Damn you, 
Rochfort, yonder it is.' 

* Damme, so it is,' said Rochfort ; *but he's so heavy in his 
clothes, he'd pull me down along with him to Davy's locker : 
— damme, if I'll go after him.' 

* Damn it, though, can't some of ye swim ? Can't some of 
ye jump in ? ' cried Sir Philip, turning to his companions : 
* damn it, Clarence will go to the bottom.' 

And so he inevitably would have done, had not Mr. Percival' 
at this instant leaped into the river, and seized hold of the 
drowning Clarence. It was with great difficulty that he 
dragged him to the shore. — Sir Philip's party, as soon as the 
danger was over, officiously offered their assistance. Clarence 
Hervey was absolutely senseless. * Damn it, what shall we do 
with him now ? ' said Sir Philip : * Damn it, we must call some 
of the people from the boat-house — he's as heavy as lead : 
damn me, if I know what to do with him.' ^ 

Whilst Sir Philip was damning himself, Mr. Percival ran to 
the boat-house for assistance, and they carried the body into 

^ The manners, if not the morals, of gentlemen, have improved since 
the first publication of this work. Swearing has gone out of fashion. 
But Sir Philip Baddel/s oaths are retained, as marks in a portrait of the 
times held up to the public, touched by ridicule, the best reprobation. 

93 



BELINDA 

the house. The elderly gentleman who had accompanied Mr. 
Percival now made his way through the midst of the noisy 
crowd, and directed what should be done to restore Mr. 
Herve/s suspended animation. Whilst he was employed in 
this benevolent manner, Clarence's worthy friends were sneering 
at him, and whispering to one another ; < Ecod, he talks as if 
he was a doctor,' said Rochfort. 

*Ton honour, I do believe,' said St. George, *he is the 

famous Dr. X ; I met him at a circulating library t'other 

day.' 

* Dr. X the writer, do you mean ? ' said Sir Philip ; 

* then, damn me, we'd better get out of his way as fast as we 
can, or he'll have some of us down in black and white ; and 
curse me, if I should choose to meet with myself in a book.' 

* No danger of that,' said Rochfort ; * for how can one 
meet with oneself in a book. Sir Philip, if one never opens one ? 
— By Jove, that's the true way.' 

* But, 'pon my honour,' said St. George, * I should like of 
all things to see myself in print ; 'twould make one famously 
famous.' 

* Damn me, if I don't flatter myself, though, one can make 
oneself famous enough to all intents and purposes without 
having anything to say to these author geniuses. You're a 
famous fellow, faith 1 to want to see yourself in print — I'll 
publish this in Bond Street : damn it, in point of famousness, 
I'd sport my Random against all the books that ever were read 
or written, damn me ! But what are we doing here ? ' 

* Herve/s in good hands,' said Rochfort, * and this here's 
a cursed stupid lounge for us — besides, it's getting towards 
dinner-time ; so my voice is, lef s be off, and we can leave St. 
George (who has such a famous mind to be in the doctor's 
book) to bring Clary after us, when he's ready for dinner and 
good company again, you know — ha ! ha 1 ha ! ' 

Away the faithful friends went to the important business of 
their day. 

When Clarence Hervey came to his senses he started up, 
rubbed his eyes, and looked about, exclaiming — *Whafs all 
this P—Where am I ?— Where's Baddely ? — Where's Rochfort ? 
— Where are they all ? ' 

* Gone home to dinner,' answered Mr. St. George, who was 
a hanger-on of Sir Philip's ; * but they left me to bring you after 

94 



THE SERPENTINE RIVER 

them. Faith, Clary, youVe had a squeak for your life ! Ton 
my honour, we thought at one time it was all over with you — 
but you're a tough one : we shan't have to " pour over your 
grave a full bottle of red " as yet, my boy — you'll do as well as 
ever. So I'll step and call a coach for you, Clary, and we 
shall be at dinner as soon as the best of 'em after all, by 
jingo ! I leave you in good hands with the doctor here, that 
brought you to life, and the gentleman that dragged you out 
of the water. Here's a note for you,' whispered Mr. St. 
George, as he leaned over Clarence Hervey — * here's a note 
for you from Sir Philip and Rochfort : read it, do you mind, to 
yourselfi 

* If I can,' said Clarence ; * but Sir Philip writes a bloody 
bad hand,^ ^ 

* Oh, he's a baronet^ said St. George, * ha 1 ha ! ha ! ' and, 
charmed with his own wit, he left the boat-house. 

Clarence with some difficulty deciphered the note, which 
contained these words : 

* Quiz the doctor. Clary, as soon as you are up to it — he's 
an author — so fair game — quiz the doctor, and we'll drink your 
health with three times three in Rochfort's burgundy. — Yours, 
etc. Phil. Baddely. 

*P.S. — Bum this when read.' 

With the request contained in the postscript Clarence 
immediately complied ; he threw the note into the fire with 
indignation the moment that he had read it, and turning 
towards the gentleman to whom it alluded, he began to express, 
in the strongest terms, his gratitude for his benevolence. 
But he stopped short in the midst of his acknowledgments, 
when he discovered to whom he was speaking. 

« Dr. X ! ' cried he. * Is it possible ? How rejoiced 

I am to see you, and how rejoiced I am to be obliged to you 1 
There is not a man in England to whom I would rather be 
obliged.' 

* You are not acquainted with Mr. Percival, I believe,' said 

Dr. X ; * give me leave, Mr. Percival, to introduce to you 

the young gentleman whose life you have saved, and whose 
life — though, by the company in which you found him, you 

^ The bloody hand is the heraldic designation of the baronet. 

95 



'Dr.X j-er/tJie. 'IiUfiasiiUf Hmore, 



THE SERPENTINE RIVER 

might not think so — is worth saving. This, sir, is no less a 
man than Mr. Clarence Hervey, of whose universal genius you 
have just had a specimen ; for which he was crowned with 
sedges, as he well deserved, by the god of the Serpentine river. 
Do not be so unjust as to imagine that he has any of the 
presumption which is sometimes the chief characteristic of a 
man of universal genius. Mr. Clarence Hervey is, without 
exception, the most humble man of my acquaintance ; for 
whilst all good judges would think him fit company for Mr. 
Percival, he has the humility to think himself upon a level 
with Mr. Rochfort and Sir Philip Baddely.' 

* You have lost as little of your satirical wit. Dr. X , as 

of your active benevolence, I perceive,' said Clarence Hervey, 

* since I met you abroad. But as I cannot submit to your 
unjust charge of humility, will you tell me where you are to be 
found in town, and to-morrow * 

* To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,* said Dr. 
X : * why not to-day ? * 

< I am engaged,' said Clarence, hesitating and laughing — 

* I am unfortunately engaged to-day to dine with Mr. Rochfort 
and Sir Philip Baddely, and in the evening I am to be at Lady 
Delacour's.' 

* Lady Delacour ! Not the same Lady Delacour whom four 
years ago, when we met at Florence, you compared to the 
Venus dei Medici— no, no, it cannot be the same — a goddess 
of four years' standing ! — Incredible ! ' 

* Incredible as it seems,' said Clarence, * it is true : I admire 
her ladyship more than ever I did.' 

* Like a true connoisseur,' said Dr. X , * you admire a 

fine picture the older it grows : I hear that her ladyship's face 
is really one of the finest pieces of painting extant, with the 
advantage of 

' Ev'ry grace which time alone can grant.' 

*Come, come, Dr. X ,' cried Mr. Percival, *no more 

wit at Lady Delacour's expense : I have a fellow-feeling for 
Mr. Hervey.' 

* Why, you are not in love with her ladyship, are you ? * 

said Dr. X . * I am not in love with Lady Delacour's 

picture of herself,' replied Mr. Percival, *but I was once in 
love with the original.' 

H 97 



BELINDA 

* How ? — When ? — Where ? * cried Clarence Hervey, in a 
tone totally difTerent from that in which he had first addressed 
Mr. Percival. 

* To-morrow you shall know the how, the when, and the 
where,' said Mr. Percival ; * here's your friend, Mr. St George, 
and his coach.' 

* The deuce take him ! * said Clarence : * but tell me, is it 
possible that you are not in love with her still ? — and why ? ' 

* Why ? * said Mr. Percival — * why ? Come to-morrow, as 
you have promised, to Upper Grosvenor Street, and let me 
introduce you to Lady Anne Percival ; she can answer your 
question better than I can — if not entirely to your satisfaction, 
at least entirely to mine, which is more surprising, as the lady 
is my wife.' 

By this time Clarence Hervey was equipped in a dry suit of 
clothes ; and by the strength of an excellent constitution, which 
he had never injured, even amongst his dissipated associates, 
he had recovered from the effects of his late imprudence. — 

* Clary, let's away, here's the coach,' said Mr. St. George. 

* Why, my boy — thaf s a famous fellow, faith ! — why, you look 
the better for being drowned. 'Pon honour, if I were you, I 
would jump into the Serpentine river once a day.' 

< If I could always be sure of such good friends to pull me 
out,' said Hervey. — * Pray, St. George, by the bye, what were 
you, and Rochfort, and Sir Philip, and all the rest of my 
friends doing, whilst I was drowning ? ' 

* I can't say particularly, upon my soul,' replied Mr. St. 
George ; * for my own part, I was in boots, so you know I was 
out of the question. But what signifies all that now ? Come, 
come, we had best think of looking after our dinners.' 

Clarence Hervey, who had very quick feelings, was ex- 
tremely hurt by the indifference which his dear friends had 
shown when his life was in danger : he was apt to believe that he 
was really an object of affection and admiration amongst his com- 
panions ; and that though they were neither very wise, nor very 
witty, they were certainly very good-natured. When they had 
forfeited, by their late conduct, these claims to his regard, his 
partiality for them was^ changed into contempt. 

* You had better come home and dine with me, Mr. Hervey,' 
said Mr. Percival, * if you be not absolutely engaged ; for here 
is your physician, who tells me that temperance is necessary 

98 



A FAMILY PARTY 

for a man just recovered from drowning, and Mr. Rochfort 
keeps too good a table, I am told, for one in your condition.' 

Clarence accepted of this invitation with a degree of pleasure 
which perfectly astonished Mr. St. George. 

< Every man knows his own affairs best,* said he to Clarence, 
as he stepped into his hackney coach ; < but for my share, I 
will do my friend Rochfort the justice to say that no one lives 
as well as he does.' 

' If to live well mean nothing but to eat,' 

said Clarence. 

* Now,' said Dr. X , looking at his watch, * it will be 

eight o'clock by the time we get to Upper Grosvenor Street, 
and Lady Anne will probably have waited dinner for us about 
two hours, which I apprehend is sufficient to try the patience 
of any woman but Griselda. * Do not,' continued he, turning 
to Clarence Hervey, * expect to see an old-fashioned, spiritless, 
patient Griselda, in Lady Anne Percival : I can assure you 
that she is — but I will neither tell you what she is, nor what 
she is not. Every man who has any abilities, likes to have 
the pleasure and honour of finding out a character by his own 
penetration, instead of having it forced upon him at full length 
in capital letters of gold, finely emblazoned and illuminated by 
the hand of some injudicious friend : every child thinks the 
violet of his own finding the sweetest I spare you any farther 

allusion and illustrations,' concluded Dr. X , * for here we 

are, thank God, in Upper Grosvenor Street.' 



CHAPTER VIII 

A FAMILY PARTY 

They found Lady Anne Percival in the midst of her children, 
who all turned their healthy, rosy, intelligent faces towards the 
door, the moment that they heard their father's voice. Clarence 
Hervey was so much struck with the expression of happiness 
in Lady Anne's countenance, that he absolutely forgot to com- 
pare her beauty with Lady Delacoui's. Whether her eyes 

99 



BELINDA 

were large or small, blue or hazel, he could not tell ; nay, he 
might have been puzzled if he had been asked the colour of 
her hair. Whether she were handsome by the rules of art, he 
knew not ; but he felt that she had the essential charm of 
beauty, the power of prepossessing the heart immediately in 
her favour. The effect of her manners, like that of her beauty, 
was rather to be felt than described. Everybody was at ease 
in her company, and none thought themselves called upon to 
admire her. To Clarence Hervey, who had been used to the 
brilliant and exigeante Lady Delacour, this respite from the 
fatigue of admiration was peculiarly agreeable. The un- 
constrained cheerfulness of Lady Anne Percival spoke a mind 
at ease, and immediately imparted happiness by exacting 
sympathy ; but in Lady Delacour's wit and gaiety there was 
an appearance of art and effort, which often destroyed the 
pleasure that she wished to communicate. Mr. Hervey was, 
perhaps unusually, disposed to reflection, by having just escaped 
from drowning ; for he had made all these comparisons, and 
came to this conclusion, with the accuracy of a metaphysician, 
who has been accustomed to study cause and effect — indeed 
there was no species of knowledge for which he had not taste 
and talents, though, to please fools, he too often affected * the 
bliss of ignorance.' 

The children at Lady Anne PercivaPs happened to be 
looking at some gold fish, which were in a glass globe, and 

Dr. X , who was a general favourite with the younger as 

well as with the elder part of the family, was seized upon the 
moment he entered the room : a pretty little girl of five years 
old took him prisoner by the flap of the coat, whilst two of her 
brothers assailed him with questions about the ears, eyes, and 
fins of fishes. One of the little boys filliped the glass globe, 
and observed that the fish immediately came to the surface of 
the water, and seemed to hear the noise very quickly ; but his 
brother doubted whether the fish heard the noise, and remarked 
that they might be disturbed by seeing or feeling the motion 
of the water, when the glass was struck. 

Dr. X observed that this was a very learned dispute, 

and that the question had been discussed by no less a person 
than the Abb^ Nollet ; and he related some of the ingenious 
experiments tried by that gentleman, to decide whether fishes 
can or cannot hear. Whilst the doctor was speaking, Clarence 

lOO 



A FAMILY PARTY 

Hervey was struck with the intelligent countenance of one of 
the little auditors, a girl of about ten or twelve years old ; he 
was surprised to discover in her features, though not in their 
expression, a singular resemblance to Lady Delacour. He 
remarked this to Mr. Percival, and the child, who overheard 
him, blushed as red as scarlet Dinner was announced at this 
instant, and Clarence Hervey thought no more of the circum- 
stance, attributing the girl's blush to confusion at being looked 
at so earnestly. One of the little boys whispered as they were 
going down to dinner, * Helena, I do believe that this is the 
good-natured gentleman who went out of the path to make 
room for us, instead of running over us as the other man did.' 
The children agreed that Clarence Hervey certainly was the 
good-natured gentleman^ and upon the strength of this observa- 
tion, one of the boys posted himself next to Clarence at dinner, 
and by all the little playful manoeuvres in his power endeavoured 
to show his gratitude, and to cultivate a friendship which had 
been thus auspiciously commenced. Mr. Hervey, who piqued 
himself upon being able always to suit his conversation to his 
companions, distinguished himself at dinner by an account of 
the Chinese fishing-bird, from which he passed to the various 
ingenious methods of fishing practised by the Russian Cossacks. 
From modem he went to ancient fish, and he talked of that 
which was so much admired by the Roman epicures for 
exhibiting a succession of beautiful colours whilst it is dying ; 
and which was, upon that account, always suffered to die in 
the presence of the guests, as part of the entertainment. — 
Clarence was led on by the questions of the children from fishes 
to birds ; he spoke of the Roman aviaries, which were so 
constructed as to keep from the sight of the prisoners that they 
contained, *the fields, woods, and every object which might 
remind them of their former liberty.' — From birds he was 
going on to beasts, when he was nearly struck dumb by the 
forbidding severity with which an elderly lady, who sat opposite 
to him, fixed her eyes upon him. He had not, till this instant, 
paid the smallest attention to her ; but her stem countenance 
was now so strongly contrasted with the approving looks of the 
children who sat next to her, that he could not help remarking 
it. He asked her to do him the honour to drink a glass of 
wine with him. She declined doing him that honour ; observing 
that she never drank more than one glass of wine at dinner, 

loi 



BELINDA 

and that she had just taken one with Mr. Percival. Her 
manner was well-bred, but haughty in the extreme ; and she 
was so passionate, that her anger sometimes conquered even 
her politeness. Her dislike to Clarence Hervey was apparent, 
even in her silence. ' If the old gentlewoman has taken an 
antipathy to me at first sight, I cannot help it,' thought he, 
and he went on to the beasts. The boy, who sat next him, 
had asked some questions about the proboscis of the elephant, 
and Mr. Hervey mentioned Ives's account of the elephants in 
India, who have been set to watch young children, and who 
draw them back gently with their trunks, when they go out of 
bounds. He talked next of the unicorn ; and addressing 

himself to Dr. X and Mr. Percival, he declared that in his 

opinion Herodotus did not deserve to be called the father of 
lies ; he cited the mammoth to prove that the apocryphal 
chapter in the history of beasts should not be contemned — that 
it would in all probability be soon established as true history. 
The dessert was on the table before Clarence had done with 
the mammoth. 

As the butler put a fine dish of cherries upon the table, he 
said — 

* My lady, these cherries are a present from the old gardener 
to Miss Delacour.' 

'Set them before Miss Delacour then,' said Lady Anne. 
* Helena, my dear, distribute your own cherries.' 

At the name of Delacour, Clarence Hervey, though his 
head was still half full of the mammoth, looked round in 
astonishment ; and when he saw the cherries placed before the 
young lady, whose resemblance to Lady Delacour he had before 
observed, he could not help exclaiming — 

* That young lady then is not a daughter of your ladyship's?' 

* No ; but I love her as well as if she were,' replied Lady 
Anne. — * What were you saying about the mammoth ? ' 

'That the mammoth is supposed to be ' but inter- 
rupting himself, Clarence said in an inquiring tone — * A niece 
of Lady Delacour's 1 ' 

* Her ladyship's daughter^ sir,' said the severe old lady, in 
a voice more terrific than her looks. 

'Shall I give you some strawberries, Mr. Hervey,' said 
Lady Anne, * or will you let Helena help you to some 
cherries ? ' 

I02 



A FAMILY PARTY 

* Her ladyship's daughter T exclaimed Clarence Hervey, in 
a tone of surprise. 

* Some cherries, sir ? ' said Helena ; but her voice Altered 
so much, that she could hardly utter the words. 

Clarence perceived that he had been the cause of her agita- 
tion, though he knew not precisely by what means ; and he 
now applied himself in silence to the picking of his strawberries 
with great diligence. 

The ladies soon afterwards withdrew, and as Mr. Percival 
did not touch upon the subject again, Clarence forebore to ask 
any further questions, though he was considerably surprised 
by this sudden discovery. When he went into the drawing- 
room to tea, he found his friend, the stem old lady, speaking 
in a high declamatory tone. The words which he heard as he 
came into the room were — 

* If there were no Clarence Herveys, there would be no 
Lady Delacours.' — Clarence bowed as if he had received a 
high compliment — the old lady walked away to an antechamber, 
fanning herself with great energy. 

* Mrs. Margaret Delacour,' said Lady Anne, in a low voice 
to Hervey, * is an aunt of Lord Delacour's. A woman whose 
heart is warmer than her temper.' 

* And that is never cool^^ said a young lady, who sat next to 
Lady Anne. ' I call Mrs. Margaret Delacour the volcano ; 
Pm sure I am never in her company without dreading an 
eruption. Every now and then out comes with a tremendous 
noise, fire, smoke, and rubbish.' 

'And precious minerals,' said Lady Anne, 'amongst the 
rubbish.' 

* But the best of it is,' continued the young lady, * that she 
is seldom in a passion without making a hundred mistakes, for 
which she is usually obliged afterwards to ask a thousand 
pardons.' 

*By that account,* said Lady Anne, 'which I believe to 
be just, her contrition is always ten times as great as her 
offence.' 

* Now you talk of contrition. Lady Anne,' said Mr. Hervey, 
* I should think of my own offences : I am very sorry that my 
indiscreet questions gave Miss Delacour any pain — my head 
was so full of the mammoth, that I blundered on without 
seeing what I was about till it was too late.' 

103 



Th$ tld lady waliid atna^ I 



A FAMILY PARTY 

* Pray, sir,* said Mrs. Margaret Delacour, who now returned, 
and took her seat upon a sofa, with the solemnity of a person 
who was going to sit in judgment upon a criminal, ' pray, sir, 
may I ask how long you have been acquainted with my Lady 
Delacour ? ' 

Clarence Hervey took up a book, and with great gravity 
kissed it, as if he had been upon his oath in a court of justice, 
and answered — 

*To the best of my recollection, madam, it is now four 
years since I had first the pleasure and honour of seeing Lady 
Delacour.' 

' And in that time, intimately as you have had the pleasure 
of being acquainted with her ladyship, you have never dis- 
covered that she had a daughter ? ' 

* Never,* said Mr, Hervey. 

* There, Lady Anne ! — There 1 * cried Mrs. Delacour, * will 
you tell me after this, that Lady Delacour is not a monster ? * 

* Everybody says that she*s a prodigy,* said Lady Anne ; 
^ and prodigies and monsters are sometimes thought synonymous 
terms.* 

' Such a mother was never heard of,* continued Mrs. Dela- 
cour, ^ since the days of Savage and Lady Macclesfield I am 
convinced that she hates her daughter. Why, she never speaks 
of her — she never sees her — she never thinks of her 1 * 

' Some mothers speak more than they think of their children, 
and others think more than they speak of them,* said Lady Anne. 

' I always thought,* said Mr. Hervey, ^ that Lady Delacour 
was a woman of great sensibility.* 

< Sensibility ! * exclaimed the indignant old lady, < she has 
no sensibility, sir — ^none — ^none. She who lives in a constant 
round of dissipation, who performs no one duty, who exists 
only for herself ; how does she show her sensibility ? — Has she 
sensibility for her husband — for her daughter — ^for any one 
useful purpose upon earth ? — Oh, how I hate the cambric 
handkerchief sensibility that is brought out only to weep at a 
tragedy ! — ^Yes ; Lady Delacour has sensibility enough, I grant 
ye, when sensibility is the fashion. I remember well her per- 
forming the part of a nurse with vast applause ; and I remem- 
ber, too, the sensibility she showed, when the child that she 
nursed fell a sacrifice to her dissipation. The second of her 
children that she killed * 



BELINDA 

* Killed ! — Oh ! surely, my dear Mrs. Delacour, that is too 
strong a word,' said Lady Anne: 'you would not make a 
Medea of Lady Delacour 1 ' 

* It would have been better if I had,* cried Mrs. Delacour. 
< I can understand that there may be such a thing in nature as 
a jealous wife, but an unfeeling mother I cannot comprehend 
— that passes my powers of imagination.' 

'And mine, so much,' said Lady Anne, 'that I cannot 
believe such a being to exist in the world— notwithstanding all 
the descriptions I have heard of it : as you say, my dear Mrs. 
Delacour, it passes my powers of imagination. Let us leave 
it in Mr. Herve/s apocryphal chapter of aiiimals, and he will 
excuse us if I never admit it into true history, at least without 
some better evidence than I have yet heard.' 

' Why, my dear, dear Lady Anne,' cried Mrs. Delacour — 
* bless me, I've made this coffee so sweet, there's no drinking 
it — ^what evidence would you have ? ' 

* None,* said Lady Anne, smiling, ' I would have none.' 

' That is to say, you will take none,' said Mrs. Delacour : 
'but can anything be stronger evidence than her ladyship's 
conduct to my poor Helen — to your Helen, I should say — ^for 
you have educated, you have protected her, you have been a 
mother to her. I am an infirm, weak, ignorant, passionate 
old woman — I could not have been what you have been to 
that child — God bless you ! — God will bless you ! ' 

She rose as she spoke, to set down her coffee-cup on the 
table. Clarence Hervey took it from her with a look which said 
much, and which she was perfectly capable of imderstanding. 

'Young man,' said she, 'it is very unfashionable to treat 
age and infirmity with politeness. I wish that your friend, 
Lady Delacour, may at my time of life meet with as much 
respect, as she has met with admiration and gallantry in her 
youth. Poor woman, her head has absolutely been turned 
with admiration — and if fame say true, Mr. Hervey has had 
his share in turning that head by his flattery.' 

^ I am sure her ladyship has turned mine by her charms,' 
said Clarence; 'and I certainly am not to be blamed for 
admiring what all the world admires.' 

* I wish,' said the old lady, ' for her own sake, for the sake 
of her family, and for the sake of her reputation, that my Lady 
Delacour had fewer admirers, and more friends.' 

106 



A FAMILY PARTY 

* Women who have met with so many admirers, seldom 
meet with many friends/ said Lady Anne. 

* No,' said Mrs. Delacour, * for they seldom are wise enough 
to know their value.* 

< We learn the value of all things, but especially of friends, 
by experience,' said Lady Anne ; * and it is no wonder, there- 
fore, that those who have little experience of the pleasures of 
friendship should not be wise enough to know their value.' 

* This is very good-natured sophistry ; but Lady Delacour 
is too vain ever to have a friend,' said Mrs. Delacour. * My 
dear Lady Anne, you don't know her as well as I do — she has 
more vanity than ever woman had.' 

* That is certainly saying a great deal,* said Lady Anne ; 

* but then we must consider, that Lady Delacour, as an heiress, 
a beauty, and a wit, has a right to a triple share at least.' 

< Both her fortune and her beauty are gone ; and if she had 
any wit left, it is time it should teach her how to conduct her- 
self, I think,' said Mrs. Delacour : * but I give her up — I give 
her up.' 

* Oh no,' said Lady Anne, * you must not give her up yet, 
I have been informed, and upon the best authority^ that Lady 
Delacour was not always the unfeeling, dissipated fine lady 
that she now appears to be. This is only one of the transfor- 
mations of fashion — ^the period of her enchantment will soon 
be at an end, and she will return to her natural character. I 
should not be at all surprised, if Lady Delacour were to appear 
at once lafemme comme il y en apeu? 

*0r la bonne nthref^ said Mrs. Delacour, sarcastically, 

* after thus leaving her daughter ' 

* Pour bonne bouche^ interrupted Lady Anne, * when she is 
tired of the insipid taste of other pleasures, she will have a 
higher relish for those of domestic life, which will be new and 
fresh to her.' 

*And so you really think, my dear Lady Anne, that my 
Lady Delacour will end by being a domestic woman. Well,' 
said Mrs. Margaret, after taking two pinches of snuff, 'some 
people believe in the millennium ; but I confess I am not one 
of them — are you, Mr. Hervey ? ' 

* If it were foretold to me by a good angel,* said Clarence, 
smiling, as his eye glanced at Lady Anne ; Mf it were foretold 
to me by a good angel, how could I doubt it ? ' 

107 



BELINDA 

Here the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of 
one of Lady Anne's little boys, who came running eagerly up 
to his mother, to ask whether he might have * the sulphurs to 
show to Helena Delacour. I want to show her Vertumnus and 
Pomona, mamma,' said he. * Were not the cherries that the 
old gardener sent very good ? ' 

*What is this about the cherries and the old gardener, 
Charles ? * said the young lady who sat beside Lady Anne : 
* come here and tell me the whole story.' 

* I will, but I should tell it you a great deal better another 
time,' said the boy, * because now Helena's waiting for Ver- 
tumnus and Pomona.' 

* Go then to Helena,' said Lady Anne, * and I will tell the 
story for you.' 

Then turning to the young lady she began — * Once upon 
a time there lived an old gardener at Kensington ; and this 
old gardener had an aloe, which was older than himself ; for it 
was very near a hundred years of age, and it was just going to 
blossom, and the old gardener calculated how much he might 
make by showing his aloe, when it should be in full blow, to 
the generous public — and he calculated that he might make 
;£ioo; and with this £ioo he determined to do more than 
was ever done with ;^ioo before: but, unluckily, as he was 
thus reckoning his blossoms before they were blown, he 
chanced to meet with a fair damsel, who ruined all his 
calculations.' 

* Ay, Mrs. Stanhope's maid, was not it ? ' interrupted Mrs. 
Margaret Delacour. < A pretty damsel she was, and almost as 
good a politician as her mistress. Think of that jilt's tricking 
this poor old fellow out of his aloe, and — oh, the meanness of 
Lady Delacour, to accept of that aloe for one of her extravagant 
entertainments ! ' 

* But I always understood that she paid fifty guineas for it,' 
said Lady Anne. 

* Whether she did or not,' said Mrs. Delacour, *her ladyship 
and Mrs. Stanhope between them were the ruin of this poor 
old man. He was taken in to marry that jade of a waiting- 
maid ; she turned out just as you might expect from a pupil 
of Mrs. Stanhope's — the match-making Mrs. Stanhope — you 
know, sir.' (Clarence Hervey changed colour.) * She turned 
out,' continued Mrs. Delacour, 'everything that was bad — 

1 08 



A FAMILY PARTY 

ruined her husband — ran away from him — and left him a 
beggar.* 

* Poor man ! ' said Clarence Hervey. 

* But now,' said Lady Anne, * let's come to the best part of 
the story — mark how good comes out of evil. If this poor 
man had not lost his aloe and his wife, I probably should 
never have been acquainted with Mrs. Delacour, or with my 
little Helena. About the time that the old gardener was left 
a beggar, as I happened to be walking one fine evening in 
Sloane Street, I met a procession of schoolgirls — an old man 
begged from them in a most moving voice; and as they passed, 
several of the young ladies threw balance to him. One little 
girl, who observed that the old man could not stoop without 
great difficulty, stayed behind the rest of her companions, and 
collected the halfpence which they had thrown to him, and put 
them into his hat. He began to tell his story over again to her, 
and she stayed so long listening to it, that her companions had 
turned the comer of the street, and were out of sight. She 
looked about in great distress ; and I never shall forget the 
pathetic voice with which she said, " Oh ! what will become of 
me ? everybody will be angry with me." I assured her that 
nobody should be angry with her, and she gave me her little 
hand with the utmost innocent confidence. I took her home 
to her schoolmistress, and I was so pleased with the beginning 
of this acquaintance, that I was determined to cultivate it. One 
good acquaintance I have heard always leads to another. 
Helena introduced me to her aunt Delacour as her best 
friend. Mrs. Margaret Delacour has had the goodness to let 
her little niece spend the holidays and all her leisure time 
with me, so that our acquaintance has grown into friendship. 
Helena has become quite one of my family.* 

< And I am sure she has become quite a different creature 
since she has been so much with you,* cried Mrs. Delacour ; 
* her spirits were quite broken by her mother's neglect of her : 
young as she is, she has a great deal of real sensibility ; but as 
to her mother's sensibility * 

At the recollection of Lady Delacour*s neglect of her 
child, Mrs. Delacour was going again to launch forth into 
indignant invective, but Lady Anne stopped her, by whisper- 
ing — 

*Take care what you say of the mother, for here is the 

109 



BELINDA 

daughter coming, and she has, indeed, a great deal of real 
sensibility.' 

Helena and her young companions now came into the 
room, bringing with them the sulphurs at which they had 
been looking. 

'Mamma,' said little Charles Percival, <we have brought 
the sulphurs to you, because there are some of them that / 
don't know.' 

< Wonderful ! ' said Lady Anne ; ' and what is not quite so 
wonderful, there are some of them that / don't know.' 

The children spread the sulphurs upon a little table, and all 
the company gathered round it 

< Here are all the nine muses for you,' said the least of the 
boys, who had taken his seat by Clarence Hervey at dinner ; 
* here are all the muses for you, Mr. Hervey : which do you 
like best ? — Oh, that's the tragic muse that you have chosen 1 
— ^You don't like the tragic better than the comic muse, do you?' 

Clarence Hervey made no answer, for he was at that instant 
recollecting how Belinda looked in the character of the tragic 
muse. 

' Has your ladyship ever happened to meet with the young 
lady who has spent this winter with Lady Delacour?' said 
Clarence to Lady Anne. 

' I sat near her one night at the opera,' said Lady Anne : 
' she has a charming countenance.' 

* Who ? — Belinda Portman, do you mean ? ' said Mrs. 
Delacour. ' I am sure if I were a young man, I would not 
trust to the charming countenance of a young lady who is a 
pupil of Mrs. Stanhope's, and a friend of — Helena, my dear, 
shut the door — the most dissipated woman in London.' 

* Indeed,' said Lady Anne, ' Miss Portman is in a dangerous 
situation ; but some young people learn prudence by being 
placed in dangerous situations, as some young horses, I have 
heard Mr. Percival say, learn to be sure-footed, by being left 
to pick their own way on bad roads.' 

Here Mr. Percival, Dr. X , and some other gentlemen, 

came upstairs to tea, and the conversation took another turn. 
Clarence Hervey endeavoured to take his share in it with his 
usual vivacity, but he was thinking of Belinda Portman, 
dangerous situations, stumbling horses, etc. ; and he made 
several blunders, which showed his absence of mind. 

no 



ADVICE 

*What have you there, Mr. Hervey?' said Dr. X , 

looking over his shoulder — *the tragic muse? This tragic 
muse seems to rival Lady Delacour in your admiration.' 

* Oh,* said Clarence, smiling, * you know I was always a 
votary of the muses.' 

* And a favoured votary,' said Dr. X . * I wish, for 

the interests of literature, that poets may always be lovers, 
though I cannot say that I desire lovers should always be 
poets. But, Mr. Hervey, you must never marry, remember,' 

continued Dr. X , * never-^for your true poet must always 

be miserable. You know Petrarch tells us, he would not have 
been happy if he could ; he would not have married his mistress 
if it had been in his power ; because then there would have been 
an end of his beautiful sonnets.' 

* Every one to his taste,* said Clarence ; * for my part I have 
even less ambition to imitate the heroism than hope of being 
inspired with the poetic genius of Petrarch. I have no wish to 
pass whole nights composing sonnets. I would (am I not 
right, Mr. Percival ?) infinitely rather be a slave of the ring than 
a slave of the lamp.' 

Here the conversation ended ; Clarence took his leave, and 
Mrs. Margaret Delacour said, the moment he had left the room, 
* Quite a different sort of young man from what I had expected 
to see ! * 



CHAPTER IX 

ADVICE 

The next morning Mr. Hervey called on Dr. X , and 

begged that he would accompany him to Lady Delacour's. 
*To be introduced to your tragic muse ?* said the doctor. 

* Yes,' said Mr. Hervey : * I must have your opinion of her 
before I devote myself.' 

* My opinion ! but of whom ? — Of Lady Delacour ? ' 

* No ; but of a young lady whom you will see with her.' 
' Is she handsome ? ' 

* Beautiful ! ' 

* And young ? ' 

III 



BELINDA 

* And young/ 

* And graceful ? ' 

* The most graceful person you ever beheld.' 

< Young, beautiful, graceful ; then the deuce take me/ said 

Dr. X , * if I give you my opinion of her : for the odds 

are, that she has a thousand faults, at least, to balance these 
perfections.' 

< A thousand faults ! a charitable allowance,' said Clarence, 
smiling. 

* There now,' said Dr. X 

'Touch him, and no minister's so sore.' 

To punish you for wincing at my first setting out, I promise you, 
that if the lady have a million of faults, each of them high as 
huge Olympus, I will see them as with the eye of a flatterer — 
not of a friend.' 

* I defy you to be so good or so bad as your word, doctor,' 
said Hervey. *You have too much wit to make a good 
flatterer.' 

^ And perhaps you think too much to make a good friend,' 

said Dr. X , 

V ^ < Not so,' said Clarence : * I would at any time rather be cut 
^ by a sharp knife than by a blunt one. But, my dear doctor, I 
hope you will not be prejudiced against Belinda, merely because 
she is with Lady Delacour ; for to my certain knowledge, she 
is not under her ladyship's influence. She judges and acts for 
herself, of which I have had an instance.' 

* Very possibly ! ' interrupted Dr. X . * But before we 

go any ^rther, will you please to tell me of what Belinda you 
are talking ? ' 

^ Belinda Portman. I forgot that I had not told you.' 
' Miss Portman, a niece of Mrs. Stanhope's ? ' 

* Yes, but do not be prejudiced r gainst her on that account,' 
said Clarence, eagerly, * though I vas at first myself.' 

< Then you will excuse my following your example instead of 
your precepts.' 

* No,' said Clarence, * for my precepts are far better than 
my example.' 

Lady Delacour received Dr. X most courteously, and 

thanked Mr. Hervey for introducing to her a gentleman with 
whom she had long desired to converse. Dr. X had a 

112 



ADVICE 

great literary reputation, and she saw that he was a perfectly 
well-bred man ; consequently she was ambitious of winning his 
admiration. She perceived also that he had considerable 
influence with Clarence Hervey, and this was a sufficient reason 
to make her wish for his good opinion. Belinda was particularly 
pleased with his manners and conversation ; she saw that he 
paid her much attention, and she was desirous that he should 
think favourably of her ; but she had the good sense and good 
taste to avoid a display of her abilities and accomplishments. 
A sensible man, who has any knowledge of the world and 
talents for conversation, can easily draw out the knowledge of 

those with whom he converses. Dr. X possessed this 

power in a superior degree. 

* Well,' cried Clarence, when their visit was over, * what is 
your opinion of Lady Delacour ?.' 

* I am " blasted with excess of light," ' said the doctor. 
*Her ladyship is certainly very brilliant,' said Clarence, 

* but I hope that Miss Portman did not overpower you.' 

*No — I turned my eyes from Lady Delacour upon Miss 
Portman, as a painter turns his eyes upon mild green, to rest 
them, when they have been dazzled by glaring colours. 

* She yields her charms of mind with sweet delay.* 

* I was afraid,' said Hervey, * that you might think her 
manners too reserved and cold : they are certainly become 
more so than they used to be. But so much the better ; by 
and by we shall find beautiful flowers spring up from beneath 
the snow.' 

* A very poetical hope,' said Dr. X ; * but in judging 

of the human character, we must not entirely trust to analogies 
and allusions taken from the vegetable creation.' 

* What 1 ' cried Clarence Hervey, looking eagerly in the 
doctor's eyes, * what do you mean ? I am afraid you do not 
approve of Belinda.' 

* Your fears are almost as precipitate as your hopes, my good 
sir : but to put you out of pain, I will tell you, that I approve 
of all I have seen of this young lady, but that it is absolutely 
out of my power to form a decisive judgment of a woman's 
temper and character in the course of a single morning visit. 
Women, you know, as well as men, often speak with one species 
of enthusiasm, and act with another. I must see your Belinda 

I 113 



BELINDA 

act, I must study her, before I can give you my final judgment. 
Lady Delacour has honoured me with her commands to go to 
her as often as possible. For your sake, my dear Hervey, I 
shall obey her ladyship most punctually, that I may have 
frequent opportunities of seeing your Miss Portman.' 

Clarence expressed his gratitude with much energy, for this 
instance of the doctor's friendship. Belinda, who had been en- 
tertained by Dr. X 's conversation during the first visit, 

was more and more delighted with his company as she became 
more acquainted with his understanding and character. She 
felt that he unfolded her powers, and that with the greatest 
politeness and address he raised her confidence in herself, 
without ever descending to flattery. . By degrees she learned 
to look upon him as a friend ; she imparted to him with great 
ingenuousness her opinions on various subjects, and she was 
both amused and instructed by his observations on the characters 
and manners of the company who frequented Lady Delacour's 
assemblies. She did not judge of the doctor's sincerity merely 
by the kindness he showed her, but by his conduct towards 
others. 

One night, at a select party at Lady Delacour's, a Spanish 
gentleman was amusing the company with some anecdotes, to 
prove the extraordinary passion which some of his countrymen 
formerly showed for the game of chess.- He mentioned 
families, in which unfinished games, bequeathed by will, had 
descended from father to son, and where victory was doubtful 
for upwards of a century. 

Mr. Hervey observed, that gaining a battle was, at that 
time, so common to the court of Spain, that a victory at chess 
seemed to confer more iclat; for that an abb^, by losing 
adroitly a game at chess to the Spanish minister, obtained a 
cardinal's hat. 

The foreigner was flattered by the manner in which Hervey 
introduced this slight circumstance, and he directed to him his 
conversation, speaking in French and Italian successively ; he 
was sufficiently skilled in both languages, but Clarence spoke 
them better. Till he appeared, the foreigner was the principal 
object of attention, but he was soon eclipsed by Mr. Hervey, 
Nothing amusing or instructive that could be said upon the 
game of chess escaped him, and the literary ground, which the 
slow Don would have taken some hours to go regularly over, 

114 



ADVICE 

our hero traversed in a few minutes. From Twiss to Vida, 
from Irwin to Sir William Jones, from Spain to India, he 
passed with admirable celerity, and seized all that could adorn 
his course from Indian Antiquities or Asiatic Researches. 

By this display of knowledge he surprised even his friend 

Dr. X . The ladies admired his taste as a poet, the 

gentlemen his accuracy as a critic ; Lady Delacour loudly 
applauded, and Belinda silently approved. Clarence was 
elated. The Spanish gentleman, to whom he had just quoted 
a case in point from Vida's Scacchia, asked him if he were 
as perfect in the practice as in the theory of the game. 
Clarence was too proud of excelling in everything to decline 
the Spaniard's challenge. They sat down to chess. Lady 
Delacour, as they ranged the pieces on the board, cried, 
* Whoever wins shall be my knight ; and a silver chessman 
shall be his prize. Was it not Queen Elizabeth who gave a 
silver chessman to one of her courtiers as a mark of her royal 
favour ? I am ashamed to imitate such a pedantic coquette — 
but since I have said it, how can I retract ? ' 

* Impossible ! impossible ! ' cried Clarence Hervey : * a 
silver chessman be our prize ; and if I win it, like the gallant 
Raleigh, I will wear it in my cap ; and what proud Essex shall 
dare to challenge it ? ' 

The combat now began — the spectators were silent. 
Clarence made an error in his first move, for his attention was 
distracted by seeing Belinda behind his adversary's chair. 
The Spaniard was deceived by this mistake into a contemptu- 
ous opinion of his opponent — Belinda changed her place — 
Clarence recovered his presence of mind, and convinced him 
that he was not a man to be despised. The combat was long 
doubtful, but at length, to the surprise of all present, Clarence 
Hervey was victorious. 

Exulting in his success, he looked round for Lady Delacour, 
from whom he expected the honours of his triumph. She had 
left the room, but soon she returned, dressed in the character 
of Queen Elizabeth, in which she had once appeared at a 
masquerade, with a large ruff, and all the costume of the 
times. 

Clarence Hervey, throwing himself at her feet, addressed 
her in that high-flown style which her majesty was wont to 
hear from the gallant Raleigh, or the accomplished Essex. 

IIS 



r ' •' 



ADVICE 

Soon the coquetry of the queen entirely conquered her 
prudery; and the favoured courtier, evidently elated by his 
situation, was as enthusiastic as her majesty's most insatiable 
vanity could desire. The characters were well supported ; 
both the actor and actress were highly animated, and seemed 
so fully possessed by their parts as to be insensible to the 
comments that were made upon the scene. Clarence Hervey 
was first recalled to himself by the deep blush which he saw 
on Belinda's cheek, when Queen Elizabeth addressed her as 
one of her maids of honour, of whom she affected to be jealous. 
He was conscious that he had been hurried by the enthusiasm 
of the moment farther than he either wished or intended. It 
was difficult to recede, when her majesty seemed disposed to 
advance; but Sir Walter Raleigh, with much presence of 
mind, turned to the foreigner, whom he accosted as the 
Spanish ambassador. 

* Your excellency sees,* said he, * how this great queen turns 
the heads of her faithful subjects, and afterwards has the art 
of paying them with nothing but words. Has the new world 
afforded you any coin half so valuable ? ' 

The Spanish gentleman's grave replies to this playful 
question gave a new turn to the conversation, and relieved 
Clarence Hervey from his embarrassment Lady Delacour, 
though still in high spirits, was easily diverted to other objects. 
She took the Spaniard with her to the next room, to show him 
a picture of Mary, Queen of Scots. The company followed 

her — Clarence Hervey remained with Dr. X and Belinda, 

who had just asked the doctor to teach her the moves at chess. 

'Lady Delacour has charming spirits,' said Clarence 
Hervey ; * they inspire everybody with gaiety.' 

* Everybody! they incline me more to melancholy than 

mirth,' said Dr. X . * These high spirits do not seem 

quite natural The vivacity of youth and of health, Miss 
Portman, always charms me ; but this gaiety of Lady Dela- 
cour's does not appear to me that of a sound mind in a sound 
body.' 

The doctor's penetration went so near the truth, that 
Belinda, afraid of betraying her friend's secrets, never raised 
her eyes from the chess-board whilst he spoke, but went on 
setting up the fallen castles, and bishops, and kings, with 
expeditious diligence. 

117 



BELINDA 

* You are putting the bishop into the place of the knight,' 
said Clarence. 

* Lady Delacour/ continued the doctor, ' seems to be in a 
perpetual fever, either of mind or body — I cannot tell which — 
and as a professional man, I really have some curiosity to 
determine the question. If I could feel her pulse, I could in- 
stantly decide ; but I have heard her say that she has a horror 
against having her pulse felt, and a lady's horror is invincible, 
by reason * 

* But not by address,' said Clarence. * I can tell you a 
method of counting her pulse, without her knowing it, without 
her seeing you, without your seeing her.' 

* Indeed ! ' said Dr. X , smiling ; * that may be a useful 

secret in my profession ; pray impart it to me- — you who excel 
in everything.' 

* Are you in earnest, Mr. Hervey ? ' said Belinda. 

* Perfectly in earnest — my secret is quite simple. Look 
through the door at the shadow of Queen Elizabeth's ruff — 
observe how it vibrates; the motion as well as the figure is 
magnified in the shadow. Cannot you count every pulsation 
distinctly ? ' 

* I can,' said Dr. X , * and I give you credit for making 

an ingenious use of a trifling observation.' The doctor paused 
and looked round. ' Those people cannot hear what we are 
saying, I believe ? ' 

* Oh no,' said Belinda, ' they are intent upon themselves.' 
Doctor X — :^ fixed his eyes mildly upon Clarence Hervey, 

and exclaimed in an earnest friendly tone — * What a pity, Mr. 
Hervey, that a young man of your talents and acquirements, a 
man who might be anything, should — ^pardon the expression — 
choose to be — ^nothing ; should waste upon petty objects 
powers suited to the greatest ; should lend his soul to every 
contest for frivolous superiority, when the same energy con- 
centrated might ensure honourable pre-eminence among the 
first men in his country. Shall he who might not only dis- 
tinguish himself in any science or situation, who might not 
only acquire personal fame, but, oh, far more noble motive ! 
who might be permanently useful to his fellow-creatures, con- 
tent himself with being the evanescent amusement of a 
drawing-room? — Shall one, who might be great in public, or 
happy in private life, waste in this deplorable manner the best 

ii8 



ADVICE 

years of his existence — time that can never be recalled? — 
This is declamation ! — No ; it is truth put into the strongest 
language that I have power to use, in the hope of making 
some impression : I speak from my heart, for I have a sincere 
regard for you, Mr. Hervey, and if I have been impertinent, 
you must forgive me.* 

* Forgive you I ' cried Clarence Hervey, taking Dr. X 

by the hand, ' I think you a real friend ; you shall have the 
best thanks not in words, but in actions : you have roused my 
ambition, and I will pursue noble ends by noble means. A 
few years have been sacrificed ; but the lessons that they have 
taught me remain. I cannot, presumptuous as I am, flatter 
myself that my exertions can be of any material utility to my 
fellow-creatures, but what I can do I will, my excellent friend ! 
If I be hereafter either successful in public, or happy in private 
life, it is to you I shall owe it.' 

Belinda was touched by the candour and good sense with 
which Clarence Hervey spoke. His character appeared in a 
new light : she was proud of her own judgment, in having 
discerned his merit, and for a moment she permitted herself to 
feel ' unreproved pleasure in his company.' 

The next morning, Sir Philip Baddely and Mr. Rochfort 
called at Lady Delacour's — Mr. Hervey was present — her 
ladyship was summoned to Mrs. Franks, and Belinda was left 
with these gentlemen. 

* Why, damme. Clary ! you have been a lost man,' cried Sir 
Philip, * ever since you were drowned. Damme, why did not 
you come to dine with us that day, now I recollect it ? We 
were all famously merry ; but for your comfort, Clarence, we 
missed you cursedly, and were damned sorry you ever took 
that unlucky jump into the Serpentine river — damned sorry, 
were not we, Rochfort ? ' 

<Oh,' said Clarence, in an ironical tone, *you need no 
vouchers to convince me of the reality of your sorrow. You 
know I can never forget your jumping so courageously into the 
river, to save the life of your friend.' 

^ Oh, pooh ! damn it,' said Sir Philip, ' what signifies who 
pulled you out, now you are safe and sound? By the bye, 
Clary, did you ever quiz that doctor, as I desired you ? No, 
that I'm sure you didn't ; but I think be has made a quiz of 
you : for, danrnie, I believe you have taken such a fancy to the 

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BELINDA 

old quizzical fellow, that you can't live without him. Miss 
Portman, don't you admire Herve/s taste ! ' 

* In this instance I certainly do admire Mr. Herve/s taste,' 
said Belinda, <for the best of all possible reasons, because it 
entirely agrees with my own.' 

* Very extraordinary, faith,' said Sir Philip. 

* And what the devil can you find to like in him. Clary ? ' 
continued Mr. Rochfort, * for one wouldn't be so rude as to put 
that question to a lady. Ladies, you know, are never to be 
questioned about their likings and dislikings. Some have pet 
dogs, some have pet cats : then why not a pet quiz f ' 

* Ha I ha 1 ha ! that's a good one, Rochfort — a pet quiz ! — 

Ha ! ha ! ha 1 Dr. X shall be Miss Portman's pet quiz. 

Put it about, put it about, Rochfort,' continued the witty 
baronet, and he and his facetious companion continued to 
laugh as long as they possibly could at this happy hit. 

Belinda, without being in the least discomposed by their 
insolent folly, as soon as they had finished laughing, very 
coolly observed, that she could have no objection to give her 

reasons for preferring Dr. X 's company but for fear they 

might give offence to Sir Philip and his friends. She then 
defended the doctor with so much firmness, and yet with so 
much propriety, that Clarence Hervey was absolutely enchanted 
with her, and with his own penetration in having discovered 
her real character, notwithstanding her being Mrs. Stanhope's 
niece. 

* I never argue, for my part,' cried Mr. Rochfort ; * 'pon 
honour, 'tis a deal too much trouble. A lady, a handsome 
lady, I mean, is always in the right with me.' 

* But as to you, Hervey,' said Sir Philip, * damme, do you 
know, my boy, that our club has come to a determination to 
black-ball you, if you keep company with this famous doctor ? ' 

*Your club, Sir Philip, will do me honour by such an 
ostracism.' 

* Ostracism I ' repeated Sir Philip. — * In plain English, does 
that mean that you choose to be black-balled by us ? Why, 
damn it, Clary, you'll be nobody. But follow your own genius 
— damn me, if I take it upon me to understand your men of 
genius — they are in the Serpentine river one day, and in the 
clouds the next : so fare ye well. Clary. I expect to see you a 
doctor of physic, or a methodist parson, soon, damn me if I 

1 20 



ADVICE 

don't ; so fare ye well, Clary. Is black-ball your last word ? 
or will you think better on't, and give up the doctor ? ' 

*I can never give up Dr. X 's friendship — I would 

sooner be black-balled by every club in London. The good 
lesson you gave me, Sir Philip, the day I was fool enough to 
jump into the Serpentine river, has made me wiser for life. I 
know, for I have felt, the difference between real friends and 

fashionable acquaintance. Give up Dr. X ! Never ! 

never ! ' 

*Then fare you well. Clary,' said Sir Philip, * you're no 
longer one of us.' 

* Then fare ye well. Clary, you're no longer the man for me,' 
said Rochfort. 

* Tant pisy and iant mieuxy said Clarence, and so they 
parted. 

As they left the room, Clarence Hervey involuntarily turned 
to Belinda, and he thought that he read in her ingenuous, ani- 
mated countenance, Ml approbation of his conduct. 

* Hist ! are they gone ? quite gone ? ' said Lady Delacour, 
entering the room from an adjoining apartment ; * they have 
stayed an unconscionable time. How much I am obliged to 
Mrs. Franks for detaining me 1 I have escaped their vapid 
impertinence ; and in truth, this morning I have such a multi- 
plicity of business, that I have scarcely a moment even for wit 
and Clarence Hervey. Belinda, my dear, will you have the 
charity to look over some of these letters for me, which, as 
Marriott tells me, have been lying in my writing-table this week 
— expecting, most unreasonably, that I should have the grace to 
open them ? We are always punished for our indolence, as 

your friend Dr. X said the other day : if we suffer business 

to accumulate, it drifts with every ill wind like snow, till at last 
an avalanche of it comes down at once, and quite overwhelms 
us. Excuse me, Clarence,' continued her ladyship, as she 
opened her letters, ' this is very rude : but I know I have 
secured my pardon from you by remembering your friend's wit 
— ^wisdom, I should say : how seldom are wit and wisdom 
joined I They might have been joined in Lady Delacour, 
perhaps — there's vanity ! — if she had early met with such a 

friend as Dr. X ; but it's too late now,' said she, with a 

deep sigh. 

Clarence Hervey heard it, and it made a great impression 

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BELINDA 

upon his benevolent imagination. * Why too late ? * said he to 
himself. ' Mrs. Margaret Delacour is mistaken if she thinks 
this woman wants sensibility.' 

*What have you got there, Miss Portman?* said Lady 
Delacour, taking from Belinda's hand one of the letters which 
she had begged her to look over: < something wondrous 
pathetic, I should guess, by your countenance. ^^ Helena 
Delacour, ^^ Oh ! read it to yourself, my dear — a schoolgirl's 
letter is a thing I abominate — I make it a rule never to read 
Helena's epistles.' 

' Let me prevail upon your ladyship to make an exception 
to the general rule then, ' said Belinda ; * I can assure you this 
is not a common schoolgirl's letter : Miss Delacour seems to 
inherit her mother's eloquence de billet,^ 

< Miss Portman seems to possess, by inheritance, by instinct, 
by magic, or otherwise, powers of persuasion, which no one can 
resist There's compliment for compliment, my dear. Is there 
anything half so well turned in Helena's letter ? Really, 'tis 
vastly well,' continued her ladyship, as she read the letter: 
* where did the little gipsy learn to write so charmingly ? I 
protest I should like of all things to have her at home with me 
this summer — the 2ist of June — well, after the birthday, I 
shall have time to think about it. But then, we shall be going 
out of town, and at Harrowgate I should not know what to do 
with her : she had better, much better, go to her humdrum 
Aunt Margaret's, as she always does — she is a fixture in 
Grosvenor Square. These stationary good people, these 
zoophite friends, are sometimes very convenient ; and Mrs. 
Margaret Delacour is the most unexceptionable zoophite in the 
creation. She has, it is true, an antipathy to me, because I'm 
of such a different nature from herself ; but then her antipathy 
does not extend to my offspring : she is kind beyond measure 
to Helena, on purpose, I believe, to provoke me. Now I 
provoke her in my turn, by never being provoked, and she 
saves me a vast deal of trouble, for which she is overpaid by 
the pleasure of abusing me. This is the way of the world, 
Clarence. Don't look so serious — you are not come yet to 
daughters and sons, and schools and holidays, and all the evils 
of domestic life.' 

* Evils ! ' repeated Clarence Hervey, in a tone which sur- 
prised her ladyship. She looked immediately with a signifi- 

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ADVICE 

cant smile at Belinda. *Why do not you echo evils^ Miss 
Portman ? ' 

< Pray, Lady Delacour,' interrupted Clarence Hervey, * when 
do you go to Harrowgate ? ' 

< What a sudden transition ! ' said Lady Delacour. < What 
association of ideas could just at that instant take you to 
Harrowgate ? When do I go to Harrowgate ? Immediately 
after the birthday, I believe we shall — I advise you to be of 
the party.' 

*Your ladyship does me a great deal of honour,' said 
Hervey : < I shall, if it be possible, do myself the honour of 
attending you.' 

And soon after this arrangement was made, Mr. Hervey 
took his leave. 

* Well, my dear, are you still poring over that letter of 
Helena's ? ' said Lady Delacour to Miss Portman. 

< I fancy your ladyship did not quite finish it,' said 
Belinda. 

* No ; I saw something about the Leverian Museum, and a 
swallow's nest in a pair of garden-shears ; and I was afraid I 
was to have a catalogue of curiosities, for which I have little 
taste and less time.' 

< You did not see, then, what Miss Delacour says of the lady 
who took her to that Museum ? ' 

* Not I. What lady ? her aunt Margaret ? ' 

< No ; Mrs. Margaret Delacour, she says, has been so ill 
for some time past, that she goes nowhere but to Lady Anne 
Percival's.' 

< Poor woman,' said Lady Delacour, ' she will die soon, and 
then I shall have Helena upon my hands, unless some other 
kind friend takes a fancy to her. Who is this lady that has 
carried her to the Leverian Museum ? ' 

' Lady Anne Percival ; of whom she speaks with so much 
gratitude and affection, that I quite long ' 

* Lord bless me 1 ' interrupted Lady Delacour, * Lady Anne 
Percival ! Helena has mentioned this Lady Anne Percival to 
me before, I recollect, in some of her letters.' 

* Then you did read some of her letters.' 

< Half ! — I never read more than half, upon my word,' said 
Lady Delacour, laughing. 

* Why will you delight in making yourself appear less good 

123 



BELINDA 

than you are, my dear Lady Delacour ? ' said Belinda, taking 
her hand. 

* Because I hate to be like other people/ said her ladyship, 
*who delight in making themselves appear better than they 
are. But I was going to tell you, that I do believe I did pro- 
voke Percival by marrying Lord Delacour : I cannot tell you 
how much this idea delights me — I am sure that the man has 
a lively remembrance of me, or else he would never make his 
wife take so much notice of my daughter.' 

* Surely, your ladyship does not think,' said Belinda, * that 
a wife is a being whose actions are necessarily governed by a 
husband.' 

* Not necessarily — ^but accidentally. When a lady accident- 
ally sets up for being a good wife, she must of course love, 
honour, and obey. Now, you understand, I am not in the 
least obliged to Lady Anne for her kindness to Helena, because 
it all goes under the head of obedience, in my imagination ; 
and her ladyship is paid for it by an accession of character : 
she has the reward of having it said, " Oh, Lady Anne Percival 

^ is the best wife in the world ! " — " Oh, Lady Anne Percival is 
quite a pattern woman 1 " I hate pattern women. I hope I 
may never see Lady Anne ; for Vm sure I should detest her 
beyond all things living — Mrs. Luttridge not excepted.' 

Belinda was surprised and shocked at the malignant vehe- 
mence with which her ladyship uttered these words ; it was in 
vain, however, that she remonstrated on the injustice of pre- 
determining to detest Lady Anne, merely because she had 
shown kindness to Helena, and because she bore a high 
character. Lady Delacour was a woman who never listened 
to reason, or who listened to it only that she might parry it by 
wit. Upon this occasion, her wit had not its usual effect upon 
Miss Portman ; instead of entertaining, it disgusted her. 

* You have called me your friend. Lady Delacour,' said she ; 
< I should but ill deserve that name, if I had not the courage to 
speak the truth to you — if I had not the courage to tell you 
when I think you are wrong.' 

* But I have not the courage to hear you, my dear,' said 
Lady Delacour, stopping her ears. * So your conscience may 
be at ease ; you may suppose that you have said everything 
that is wise, and good, and proper, and sublime, and that you 
deserve to be called the best of friends ; you shall enjoy the 

124 



ADVICE 

office of censor to Lady Delacour, and welcome ; but remember, 
it is a sinecure place, though I will pay you with my love and 
esteem to any extent you please. You sigh — for my folly. 
Alas ! my dear, 'tis hardly worth while — my follies will soon 
be at an end. Of what use could even the wisdom of Solomon 
be to me now ? If you have any humanity, you will not force 
me to reflect : whilst I yet live, I must keep it up with incessant 
dissipation — the teetotum keeps upright only while it spins : so 
let us talk of the birthnight, or the new play that we are to see 

to-night, or the ridiculous figure Lady H made at the 

concert ; or let us talk of Harrowgate, or what you will.' 

Pity succeeded to disgust and displeasure in Belinda's mind, 
and she could hardly refrain from tears, whilst she saw this 
unhappy creature, with forced smiles, endeavour to hide the 
real anguish of her soul : she could only say, ' But, my dear 
Lady Delacour, do not you think that your little Helena, who 
seems to have a most affectionate disposition, would add to 
your happiness at home ? ' 

* Her affectionate disposition can be nothing to me,' said 
Lady Delacour. 

Belinda felt a hot tear drop upon her hand, which lay upon 
Lady Delacour's lap. 

* Can you wonder,' continued her ladyship, hastily wiping 
away the tear which she had let fall ; * can you wonder that I 
should talk of detesting Lady Anne Percival ? You see she has 
robbed me of the affections of my child. Helena asks to come 
home : yes, but how does she ask it ? Coldly, formally, — as a 
duty. But look at the end of her letter ; 1 have read it all — 
every bitter word of it I have tasted. How differently she 
writes — look even at the flowing hand — the moment she begins 
to speak of Lady Anne Percival ; then her soul breaks out : 
" Lady Anne has offered to take her to Oakly Park — she should 
be extremely happy to go, if I please." Yes, let her go ; let 
her go as far from me as possible ; let her never, never see her 
wretched mother more ! — ^Write,' said Lady Delacour, turning 
hastily to Belinda, < write in my name, and tell her to go to 
Oakly Park, and to be happy.' 

' But why should you take it for granted that she cannot be 
happy with you ? ' said Belinda. * Let us see her — let us try 
the experiment,' 

* No,' said Lady Delacour ; • no — it is too late : I will never 

125 



BELINDA 

condescend in my last moments to beg for that affection to 
' which it may be thought I have forfeited my natural claim.' 

Pride, anger, and sorrow, struggled in her countenance as 
she spoke. She turned her face from Belinda, and walked out 
of the room with dignity. 

Nothing remains for me to do, thought Belinda, but to sooth 
this haughty spirit : all other hope, I see, is vain. 

At this moment Clarence Hervey, who had no suspicion that 
the gay, brilliant Lady Delacour was sinking into the grave, 
had formed a design worthy of his ardent and benevolent 
character. The manner in which her ladyship had spoken of 

his friend Dr. X , the sigh which she gave at the reflection 

that she might have been a very different character if she had 
early had a sensible friend, made a great impression upon Mr. 
Hervey. Till then, he had merely considered her ladyship as 
an object of amusement, and an introduction to high life ; but 
he now felt so much interested for her, that he determined to 
exert all his influence to promote her happiness. He knew 
that influence to be considerable : not that he was either cox- 
comb or dupe enough to imagine that Lady Delacour was in 
love with him ; he was perfectly sensible that her only wish 
was to obtain his admiration, and he resolved to show her that 
it could no longer be secured without deserving his esteem. 
Clarence Hervey was a thoroughly generous young man : 
capable of making the greatest sacrifices, when encouraged 
by the hope of doing good, he determined to postpone the 
declaration of his attachment to Belinda, that he might devote 
himself entirely to his new project. His plan was to wean 
Lady Delacour by degrees from dissipation, by attaching her 
to her daughter, and to Lady Anne Percival. He was sanguine 
in all his hopes, and rapid, but not unthinking, in all his 
decisions. From Lady Delacour he went immediately to Dr. 
X , to whom he communicated his designs. 

*I applaud your benevolent intentions,' said the doctor: 
*but have you really the presumption to hope, that an in- 
genuous young man of four-and-twenty can reform a veteran 
coquette of four-and-thirty ? ' 

* Lady Delacour is not yet thirty,' said Clarence ; * but the 
older she is, the better the chance of her giving up a losing 
game. She has an admirable understanding, and she will 
soon — I mean as soon as she is acquainted with Lady Anne 

126 



THE MYSTERIOUS BOUDOIR 

I'ercival — discover that she has mistaken the road to happiness. 
All the difficulty will be to make them fairly acquainted with 
each other ; for this, my dear doctor, I must trust to you. Do 
you prepare Lady Anne to tolerate Lady Delacour's faults, and 
I will prepare Lady Delacour to tolerate Lady Anne's virtues.' 
* You have generously taken the more difficult task of the 

two,* replied Dr. X . *Well, we shall see what can be 

done. After the birthday, Lady Delacour talks of going to 
Harrowgate : you know Oakly Park is not far from Harrowgate, 
so they will have frequent opportunities of meeting. But, take 
my word for it, nothing can be done till after the birthday ; for 
Lady Delacour's head is at present fiill of crape petticoats, and 
horses, and carriages, and a certain Mrs. Luttridge, whom she 
hates with a hatred passing that of women.' 



CHAPTER X 

THE MYSTERIOUS BOUDOIR 

Accustomed to study human nature. Dr. X had acquired 

peculiar sagacity in judging of character. Notwithstanding the 
address with which Lady Delacour concealed the real motives 
for her apparently thoughtless conduct, he quickly discovered 
that the hatred of Mrs. Luttridge was her ruling passion. Above 
nine years of continual warfare had exasperated the tempers of 
both parties, and no opportunities of manifesting their mutual 
antipathy were ever neglected. Extravagantly as Lady Dela- 
cour loved admiration, the highest possible degree of positive 
praise was insipid to her taste, if it did not imply some 
superiority over the woman whom she considered as a perpetual 
rival. 

Now it had been said by the coachmaker that Mrs. Luttridge 
would sport a most elegant new vts-d-vis on the king's birthday. 
Lady Delacour was immediately ambitious to outshine her in 
equipage ; and it was this paltry ambition that made her con- 
descend to all the meanness of the transaction by which she 
obtained Miss Portman's draft and Clarence Hervey's two 
hundred guineas. The great, the important day, at length 

127 



BELINDA 

arrived — her ladyship's triumph in the morning at the drawing- 
room was complete. Mrs. Luttridge's dress, Mrs. Luttridge's 
vis-h-vis^ Mrs. Luttridge's horses were nothing, absolutely 
nothing, in comparison with Lady Delacour's : her ladyship 
enjoyed the fidl exultation of vanity ; and at night she went in 
high spirits to the ball. 

* O my dearest Belinda,' said she, as she left her dressing- 
room, * how terrible a thing it is that you cannot go with me 1 — 
None of the joys of this life are without alloy I — ^*Twould be 
too much to see in one night Mrs. Luttridge's mortification, and 
my Belinda's triumph. Adieu I my love : we shall live to see 
another birthday, it is to be hoped. Marriott, my drops. Oh, 
I have taken them.' 

Belinda, after her ladyship's departure, retired to the library. 
Her time passed so agreeably during Lady Delacour's absence, 
that she was surprised when she heard the clock strike twelve. 

* Is it possible,' thought she, * that I have spent two hours 
by myself in a library without being tired of my existence ? — 
How different are my feelings now from what they would have 
been in the same circumstances six months ago! — I should 
then have thought the loss of a birthnight ball a mighty trial 
of temper. It is singular, that my having spent a winter with 
one of the most dissipated women in England should have 
sobered my mind so completely. If I had never seen the 
utmost extent of the pleasures of the world, as they are called, 
my imagination might have misled me to the end of my life ; 
but now I can judge from my own experience, and I am con- 
vinced that the life of a fine lady would never make me 

happy. Dr. X told me, the other day, that he thinks 

me formed for something better, and he is incapable of 
flattery.' 

The idea of Clarence Hervey was so intimately connected 
with that of his friend, that Miss Portman could seldom separate 
them in her imagination ; and she was just beginning to reflect 
upon the manner in which Clarence looked, whilst he declared 

to Sir Philip Baddely that he would never give up Dr. X , 

when she was startled by the entrance of Marriott. 

* O Miss Portman, what shall we do ? what shall we do ? — 
My lady 1 my poor lady 1 ' cried she. 

* What is the matter ? ' said Belinda. 

* The horses — the young horses ! — Oh, I wish my lady had 

128 



ttHf vihat shall nftde^ v/ktU shall vie da t—i^ly lady I my poor lady P 



BELINDA 

never seen them. O my lady, my poor lady, what will become 
of her ? ' 

It was some minutes before Belinda could obtain from 
Marriott any intelligible account of what had happened. 

^AU I know, ma'am, is what James has just told me,' said 
Marriott. * My lady gave the coachman orders upon no ac- 
count to let Mrs. Luttridgc's carriage get before hers. Mrs. 
Luttridge's coachman would not give up the point either. My 
lady's horses were young and ill broke, they tell me, and there 
was no managing of them no ways. The carriages got somehow 
across one another, and my lady was overturned, and all smashed 
to atoms. O ma'am,' continued Marriott, * if it had not been 
for Mr. Hervey, they say, my lady would never have been got 
out of the crowd alive. He's bringing her home in his own 
carriage, God bless him ! ' 

* But is Lady Delacour hurt ? ' cried Belinda. 

* She musty — to be sure, she must, ma'am,' cried Marriott, 
putting her hand upon her bosom. * But let her be ever so 
much hurt, my lady will keep it to herself : the footmen swear 
she did not give a scream, not a single scream ; so it's their 
opinion she was no ways hurt — but that, I know, can't be — and, 
indeed, they are thinking so much about the carriage, that they 
can't give one any rational account of anything ; and, as for 
myself, I'm sure I'm in such a flutter. Lord knows, I advised 
my lady not to go with the young horses, no later than ^ 

* Hark ! ' cried Belinda, * here they are.' She ran down- 
stairs instantly. The first object that she saw was Lady Dela- 
cour in convulsions — the street-door was open— the hall was 
crowded with servants. Belinda made her way through them, 
and, in a calm voice, requested that Lady Delacour might im- 
mediately be brought to her own dressing-room, and that she 
should there be left to Marriott's care and hers. Mr. Hervey 
assisted in carrying Lady Delacour — she came to her senses as 
they were taking her upstairs. * Set me down, set me down,' 
she exclaimed ; * I am not hurt — I am quite well. — ^Where's 
Marriott ? Where's Miss Portman ? ' 

* Here we are — ^you shall be carried quite safely — trust to 
me,' said Belinda, in a firm tone, < and do not struggle.' 

Lady Delacour submitted : she was in agonising pain, but 
her fortitude was so great that she never uttered a groan. It 
was the constraint which she had put upon herself, by endeavour- 

130 



THE MYSTERIOUS BOUDOIR 

ing not to scream, which threw her into convulsions. * She is 
hurt — I am sure she is hurt, though she will not acknowledge 
it,' cried Clarence Hervey. * My ankle is sprained, thaf s all,' 
• said Lady Delacour — * lay me on this sofa, and leave me to 
Belinda.' 

* What's all this ? ' cried Lord Delacour, staggering into the 
room : he was much intoxicated, and in this condition had just 
come home, as they were carrying Lady Delacour upstairs : 
he could not be made to understand the truth, but as soon as 
he heard Clarence Hervey's voice, he insisted upon going up to 
his wife^s dressing-room. It was a very unusual thing, but 
neither Champfort nor any one else could restrain him, the 
moment that he had formed this idea ; he forced his way into 
the room. 

* What's all this ? — Colonel Lawless ! ' said he, addressing 
himself to Clarence Hervey, whom, in the confusion of his 
mind, he mistook for the colonel, the first object of his jealousy. 
* Colonel Lawless,' cried his lordship, *you are a villain. I 
always knew it.' 

* Softly ! — she's in great pain, my lord,' said Belinda, catch- 
ing Lord Delacour's arm, just as he was going to strike Clarence 
Hervey. She led him to the sofa where Lady Delacour lay, 
and uncovering her ankle, which was much swelled, showed it 
to him. His lordship, who was a humane man, was somewhat 
moved by this appeal to his remaining senses, and he began 
roaring as loud as he possibly could for arquebusade. 

Lady Delacour rested her head upon the back of the sofaj 
her hands moved with convulsive twitches — she was perfectly 
silent. Marriott was in a great bustle, running backwards and 
forwards for she knew not what, and continually repeating, * I 
wish nobody would come in here but Miss Portman and me. 
My lady says nobody must come in. Lord bless me I my lord 
here too ! ' 

* Have you any arquebusade, Marriott ? Arquebusade, for 
your lady, directly I ' cried his lordship, following her to the 
door of the boudoir, where she was going for some drops. 

* Oh, my lord, you can't come in, I assure you, my lord, 
there's nothing here, my lord, nothing of the sort,' said 
Marriott, setting her back against the door. Her terror and 
embarrassment instantly recalled all the jealous suspicions of 
Lord Delacour. * Woman 1 ' cried he, * I will see whom you 

131 



BELINDA 

have in this room ! — You have some one concealed there, and 

I will go in.' Then with brutal oaths he dragged Marriott 

from the door, and snatched the key from her struggling hand. 

Lady Delacour started up, and gave a scream of agony. 

* My lord ! — Lord Delacour,' cried Belinda, springing forward, 

* hear me.' 

Lord Delacour stopped short. * Tell me, then,' cried Lord 
Delacour, * is not a lover of Lady Delacour's concealed there ? ' 
< No ! — No ! — No I ' answered Belinda. * Then a lover of 
Miss Portman ? ' said Lord Delacour. * Gad ! we have hit it 
now, I believe.' 

'Believe whatever you please, my lord,' said Belinda, 
hastily, * but give me the key.' 

Clarence Hervey drew the key from Lord Delacour's hand, 
gave it to Miss Portman without looking at her, and immedi- 
ately withdrew. Lord Delacour followed him with a sort of 
drunken laugh ; and no one remained in the room but Marriott, 
Belinda, and Lady Delacour. Marriott was so vawda. fluttered^ 
as she said, that she could do nothing. Miss Portman locked 
the room door, and began to undress Lady Delacour, who lay 
motionless. *Are we by ourselves?' said Lady Delacour, 
opening her eyes. 

* Yes — are you much hurt ? ' said Belinda. * Oh, you are 
a charming girl I ' said Lady Delacour. * Who would have 
thought you had so much presence of mind and courage — 
have you the key safe ? ' * Here it is,' said Belinda, producing 
it ; and she repeated her question, * Are you much hurt ?' * I 
am not in pain now,' said Lady Delacour, * but I have suffered 
terribly. If I could get rid of all this finery, if you could put 
me to bed, I could sleep perhaps.' 

Whilst Belinda was undressing Lady Delacour, she shrieked 
several times ; but between every interval of pain she repeated, 

* I shall be better to-morrow.' As soon as she was in bed, she 
desired Marriott to give her double her usual quantity of 
laudanum ; for that all the inclination which she had felt to 
sleep was gone, and that she could not endure the shooting 
pains that she felt in her breast. 

* Leave me alone with your lady, Marriott,' said Miss Port- 
man, taking the bottle of laudanum from her trembling hand, 

* and go to bed ; for I am sure you are not able to sit up any 
longer.' 

132 



THE MYSTERIOUS BOUDOIR 

As she spoke, she took Marriott into the adjoining dressing- 
room. *0 dear Miss Portman,' said Marriott, who was 
sincerely attached to her lady, and who at this instant forgot 
all her jealousies, and all her love of power, * I'll do anything 
you ask me ; but pray let me stay in the room, though I know 
Pm quite helpless. It will be too much for you to be here all 
night by yourself. The convulsions may take my lady. What 
shrieks she gives every now and then ! — and nobody knows 
what's the matter but ourselves ; and everybody in the house 
is asking me why a surgeon is not sent for, if my lady is so 
much hurt. Oh, I can't answer for it to my conscience, to 
have kept the matter secret so long ; for to be sure a physician, 
if had in time, might have saved my lady — ^but now nothing 
can save her ! ' And here Marriott burst into tears. 

* Why don't you give me the laudanum ? ' cried Lady Dela- 
cour, in a loud peremptory voice ; * Give it to me instantly.' 
— * No,' said Miss Portman firmly. — * Hear me. Lady Dela- 
cour — you must allow me to judge, for you know that you are 
not in a condition to judge for yourself, or rather you must 
allow me to send for a physician, who may judge for us both.' 

* A physician ! ' cried Lady Delacour, * Never — never. I 
charge you let no physician be sent for. Remember your 
promise : you cannot betray me — you will not betray me.' 

* No,' said Belinda, * of that I have given sufficient proof — 
but you will betray yourself: it is already known by your 
servants that you have been hurt by the overturn of your 
carriage ; if you do not let either a surgeon or physician see 
you it will excite surprise and suspicion. It is not in your 
power, when violent pain seizes you, to refrain from ^ 

* It is,' interrupted Lady Delacour ; * not another scream 
shall you hear — only do not, do not, my dear Belinda, send 
for a physician.' 

*You will throw yourself again into convulsions,' said 
Belinda. ' Marriott, you see, has lost all command of herself 
— I shall not have strength to manage you — perhaps I may 
lose my presence of mind — I cannot answer for myself — your 
husband may desire to see you.' 

* No danger of that,' said Lady Delacour : * tell him my 
ankle is sprained — tell him I am bruised all over — tell him 
anything you will — he will not trouble himself any more about 
me — he will forget all that passed to-night by the time he is 

133 



BELINDA 

sober. Oh I give me the laudanum, dearest Belinda, and say 
no more about physicians.' 

It was in vain to reason with Lady Delacour. Belinda 
attempted to persuade her : * For my sake, dear Lady Dela- 
cour/ said she, < let me send for Dr. X ; he is a man of 

honour, your secret will be perfectly safe with him.' 

* He will tell it to Clarence Hervey,' said Lady Delacour : 

* of all men living, I would not send for Dr. X ; I will 

not see him if he comes.' 

< Then,' said Belinda calmly, but with a fixed determination 
of countenance, * I must leave you to-morrow morning — I must 
return to Bath.' 

* Leave me ! remember your promise.' 

* Circumstances have occurred, about which I have made 
no promise,* said Belinda ; * I must leave you, unless you will 
now give me your permission to send for Dr. X * 

Lady Delacour hesitated. *You see,' continued Belinda, 

* that I am in earnest : when I am gone, you will have no 
friend left ; when I am gone, your secret will inevitably be 
discovered ; for without me, Marriott will not have sufficient 
strength of mind to keep it.' 

* Do you think we might trust Dr. X ? ' said Lady 

Delacour. 

*I am sure you may trust him,' said Belinda, with energy; 
< I will pledge my life upon his honour.' 

* Then send for him, since it must be so,' said Lady Delacour. 
No sooner had the words passed Lady Delacour's lips than 

Belinda flew to execute her orders. Marriott recovered her 
senses when she heard that her ladyship had consented to send 
for a physician ; but she declared that she could not conceive 
how anything less than the power of magic could have brought 
her lady to such a determination. 

Belinda had scarcely despatched a servant for Dr. X , 

when Lady Delacour repented of the permission she had given, 
and all that could be said to pacify only irritated her temper. 
She became delirious ; Belinda's presence of mind never forsook 
her, she remained quietly beside the bed waiting for the arrival 

of Dr. X , and she absolutely refused admittance to the 

servants, who, drawn by their lady's outrageous cries, continu- 
ally came to her door with offers of assistance. 

About four o'clock the doctor arrived, and Miss Portman 

134 



THE MYSTERIOUS BOUDOIR 

was relieved from some of her anxiety. He assured her that 
there was no immediate danger, and he promised that the 
secret which she had entrusted to him should be faithfully 
kept. He remained with her some hours, till Lady Delacour 
became more quiet and fell asleep, exhausted with delirious 

exertions. — * I think I may now leave you,' said Dr. X ; 

but as he was going through the dressing-room, Belinda 
stopped him. — * Now that I have time to think of myself,* said 
she, < let me consult you as my friend : I am not used to act 
entirely for myself, and I shall be most grateful if you will 
assist me with your advice. I hate all mysteries, but I feel 
myself bound in honour to keep the secret with which Lady 
Delacour has entrusted me. Last night I was so circumstanced, 
that I could not extricate her ladyship without exposing myself 
to — to suspicion.' 

Miss Portman then related all that had passed about the 
mysterious door, which Lord Delacour, in his fit of drunken 
jealousy, had insisted upon breaking open. 

*Mr. Hervey,' continued Belinda, *was present when all 
this happened — he seemed much surprised : I should be sorry 
that he should remain in an error which might be fatal to my 
reputation — ^you know a woman ought not even to be suspected ; 
yet how to remove this suspicion I know not, because I cannot 
enter into any explanation, without betraying Lady Delacour — 
she has, I know, a peculiar dread of Mr. Hervey's discovering 
the truth.' 

*And is it possible,' cried Dr. X , *that any woman 

should be so meanly selfish, as thus to expose the reputation 
of her friend merely to preserve her own vanity from mortifica- 
tion ? ' 

*Hush — don't speak so loud,' said Belinda, *you will 
awaken her ; and at present she is certainly more an object of 
pity than of indignation. — If you will have the goodness to 
come with me, I will take you by a back staircase up to the 
mysterious boudoir. I am not too proud to give positive proofs 
of my speaking truth ; the key of that room now lies on Lady 
Delacour's bed — it was that which she grasped in her hand 
during her delirium — she has now let it fall — it opens both the 
doors of the boudoir — you shall see,' added Miss Portman, 
with a smile, < that I am not afraid to let you unlock either of 
them.' 

135 



BELINDA 

* As a polite man,' said Dr. X , * I believe that I should 

absolutely refuse to take any external evidence of a lad/s truth ; 
but demonstration is unanswerable even by enemies, and I will 
not sacrifice your interests to the foppery of my politeness — so 
I am ready to follow you. The curiosity of the servants may 
have been excited by last night's disturbance, and I see no 
method so certain as that which you propose of preventing 
busy rumour. That goddess (let Ovid say what he pleases) 
was bom and bred in a kitchen, or a servants' hall. — But,' 

continued Dr. X , * my dear Miss Portman, you will put a 

stop to a number of charming stories by this prudence of yours 
— a romance called the Mysterious Boudoir, of nine volumes at 
least, might be written on this subject, if you would only con- 
descend to act like almost all other heroines, that is to say, 
without common sense.' 

The doctor now followed Belinda, and satisfied himself by 
ocular demonstration, that this cabinet was the retirement of 
disease, and not of pleasure. 

It was about eight o'clock in the morning when Dr. X 

got home ; he found Clarence Hervey waiting for him. Clarence 
seemed to be in great agitation, though he endeavoured, with 
all the power which he possessed over himself, to suppress his 
emotion. 

*You have been to see Lady Delacour,' said he calmly: 
* is she much hurt ? — It was a terrible accident.' 

< She has been much hurt,' said Dr. X , * and she has 

been for some hours dehrious ; but ask me no more questions 
now, for I am asleep, and must go to bed, unless you have 
anything to say that can waken me : you look as if some great 
misfortune had befallen you ; what is the matter ? ' 

*0 my dear friend,' said Hervey, taking his hand, *do 
not jest with me ; I am not able to bear your raillery in my 
present temper — in one word, I fear that Belinda is unworthy 
of my esteem : I can tell you no more, except that I am more 
miserable than I thought any woman could make me.' 

* You are in a prodigious hurry to be miserable,' said Dr. 

X . * Upon my word I think you would make a mighty 

pretty hero in a novel ; you take things very properly for 
granted, and, stretched out upon that sofa, you act the 
distracted lover vastly well — and to complete the matter, you 
cannot tell me why you are more miserable than ever man or 

136 



THE MYSTERIOUS BOUDOIR 

hero was before. I must tell you, then, that you have still 
more cause for jealousy than you suspect. Ay, start — every 
jealous man starts at the sound of the word jealousy — a certain 
symptom this of the disease.' 

* You mistake me,* cried Clarence Hervey ; * no man is less 
disposed to jealousy than I am — but * 

* But your mistress — no, not your mistress, for you have 
never yet declared to her your attachment — but the lady you 
admire will not let a drunken man unlock a door, and you 
immediately suppose * 

< She has mentioned the circumstance to you ! ' exclaimed 
Hervey, in a joyful tone : * then she must be innocent.' 

* Admirable reasoning ! — I was going to have told you just 
now, if you would have suffered me to speak connectedly, that 
you have more reason for jealousy than you suspect, for Miss 
Portman has actually unlocked for me — for me 1 look at me — 
the door, the mysterious door — and whilst I live, and whilst 
she lives, we can neither of us ever tell you the cause of the 
mystery. All I can tell you is, that no lover is in the case, 
upon my honour — ^and now, if you should ever mistake curiosity 
in your own mind for jealousy, expect no pity from me.' 

* I should deserve none,' said Clarence Hervey ; * you have 
made me the happiest of men.' 

* The happiest of men ! — No, no ; keep that superlative 
exclamation for a future occasion. But now you behave like a 
reasonable creature, you deserve to hear the praises of your 
Belinda — I am so much charmed with her, that I wish ' 

< When can I see her ? ' interrupted Hervey ; * I'll go to her 
this instant' 

* Gently,' said Dr. X , * you forget what time of the day 

it is — you forget that Miss Portman has been up all night — 
that Lady Delacour is extremely ill — and that this would be 
the most unseasonable opportunity you could possibly choose 
for your visit.' 

To this observation Clarence Hervey assented ; but he 
immediately seized a pen from the doctor's writing-table, and 
began a letter to Belinda. The doctor threw himself upon the 
sofa, saying, * Waken me when you want me,' and in a few 
minutes he was fast asleep. 

* Doctor, upon second thoughts,' said Clarence, rising 
suddenly, and tearing his letter down the middle, * I cannot 

137 



BELINDA 

write to her yet — I forgot the reformation of Lady Delacour ; 
how soon do you think she will be well ? Besides, I have 
another reason for not writing to Belinda at present — you 
must know, my dear doctor, that I have, or had, another 
mistress.' 

* Another mistress, indeed ! ' cried Dr. X , trying to 

waken himself. 

< Good Heavens 1 I do believe youVe been asleep.' 

* I do believe I have.' 

< But is it possible that you could fall sound asleep in that 
time ? ' 

* Very possible,' said the doctor : * what is there so extra- 
ordinary in a man's falling asleep ? Men are apt to sleep some 
time within the four-and-twenty hours, unless they have half-a- 
dozen mistresses to keep them awake, as you seem to have, my 
good friend.' 

A servant now came into the room with a letter, that had 
just arrived express from the country for Dr. X . 

* This is another affair,' cried he, rousing himself. 

The letter required the doctor's immediate attendance. He 
shook hands with Clarence Hervey: *My dear friend, I am 
really concerned that I cannot stay to hear the history of your 
six mistresses ; but you see that this is an affair of life and 
death.' 

* Farewell,' said Clarence ; * I have not six, I have only 
three goddesses ; even if you count Lady Delacour for one. 
But I really wanted your advice in good earnest.' 

< If your case be desperate, you can write, cannot you ? 
Direct to me at Horton Hall, Cambridge. In the meantime, as 
far as general rules go, I can give you my advice gratis, in the 
formula of an old Scotch song 

* 'Tis good to be merry and wise, 
'Tis good to be honest and true, 
'Tis good to be off with the old love 
Before you be on with the new.* 



138 



DIFFICULTIES 



CHAPTER XI 

DIFFICULTIES 

Before he left town, Dr. X called in Berkeley Square, to 

see Lady Delacour ; he found that she was out of all immediate 
danger. Miss Portman was sorry that he was obliged to quit 
her at this time, but she felt the necessity for his going ; he 
was sent for to attend Mr. Horton, an intimate friend of his, a 
gentleman of great talents, and of the most active benevolence, 
who had just been seized with a violent fever, in consequence 
of his exertions in saving the poor inhabitants of a village in 
his neighbourhood from the effects of a dreadful fire, which 
broke out in the middle of the night. 

Lady Delacour, who heard Dr. X giving this account 

to Belinda, drew back her curtain, and said, ' Go this instant, 
doctor — I am out of all immediate danger, you say ; but if I 
were not — I must die in the course of a few months, you know 
— and what is my life, compared with the chance of saving 
your excellent friend 1 He is of some use in the world — I am 
of none — ^go this instant, doctor.' 

* What a pity,' said Dr. X , as he left the room, * that a 

woman who is capable of so much magnanimity should have 
wasted her life on petty objects 1 ' 

* Her life is not yet at an end — oh, sir, if you could save 
her ! ' cried Belinda. 

Doctor X shook his head ; but returning to Belinda, 

after going half-way downstairs, he added, *When you read 
this paper, you will know all that I can tell you upon the 
subject.* 

Belinda, the moment the doctor was gone, shut herself up 
in her own room to read the paper which he had given to her. 

Dr. X first stated that he was by no means certain that 

Lady Delacour really had the complaint which she so much 
dreaded ; but it was impossible for him to decide without 
farther examination, to which her ladyship could not be pre- 
vailed upon to submit. Then he mentioned all that he thought 
would be most efficacious in mitigating the pain that Lady 

139 



BELINDA 

' Delacour might feel, and all that could be done, with the 
greatest probability of prolonging her life. And he concluded 
with the following words : * These are all temporising ex- 
pedients : according to the usual progress of the disease. Lady 
Delacour may live a year, or perhaps two. 

* It is possible that her life might be saved by a skilful 
surgeon. By a few words that dropped from her ladyship last 
night, I apprehend that she has some thoughts of submitting to 
an operation, which will be attended with much pain and danger, 
even if she employ the most experienced surgeon in London ; 
but if she put herself, from a vain hope of secrecy, into ignorant 
hands, she will inevitably destroy herself.' 

After reading this paper, Belinda had some faint hopes 
that Lady Delacour's life might be saved ; but she determined 
to wait till Dr. X should return to town, before she men- 
tioned his opinion to his patient ; and she earnestly hoped that 
no idea of putting herself into ignorant hands would recur to 
her ladyship. 

Lord Delacour, in the morning, when he was sober, retained 
but a confused idea of the events of the preceding night ; but 
he made an awkwardly good-natured apology to Miss Portman 
for his intrusion, and for the disturbance he had occasioned, 
which, he said, must be laid to the blame of Lord Studley's 
admirable burgundy. He expressed much concern for Lady 
Delacour's terrible accident ; but he could not help observing, 
that if his advice had been taken, the thing could not have 
happened — that it was the consequence of her ladyship's self- 
willedness about the young horses. 

* How she got the horses without paying for them, or how 
she got money to pay for them, I know not,' said his lordship ; 
* for I said I would have nothing to do with the business, and 
I have kept to my resolution.' 

His lordship finished his morning visit to Miss Portman, by 
observing that *the house would now be very dull for her: 
that the office of a nurse was ill-suited to so young and beauti- 
ful a lady, but that her undertaking it with so much cheerfulness 
was a proof of a degree of good nature that was not always to 
be met with in the young and handsome.' 

The manner in which Lord Delacour spoke convinced 
Belinda that he was in reality attached to his wife, however 
the fear of being, or of appearing to be, governed by her 

140 



DIFFICULTIES 

ladyship might have estranged him from her, and from home. 
She now saw in him much more good sense, and symptoms of 
a more amiable character, than his lady had described, or than 
she ever would allow that he possessed. 

The reflections, however, which Miss Portman made upon 
the miserable life this ill-matched couple led together, did not 
incline her in favour of marriage in general ; great talents on 
one side, and good nature on the other, had, in this instance, 
tended only to make each party unhappy. Matches of interest, 
convenience, and vanity, she was convinced, diminished instead 
of increasing happiness. Of domestic felicity she had never, 
except during her childhood, seen examples — she had, indeed, 

heard from Dr. X descriptions of the happy family of Lady 

Anne Percival, but she feared to indulge the romantic hope of 
ever being loved by a man of superior genius and virtue, with 
a temper and manners suited to her taste. The only person 
she had seen, who at all answered this description, was Mr. 
Hervey ; and it was firmly fixed in her mind that he was not 
a marrying man, and consequently not a man of whom any 
prudent woman would suffer herself to think with partiality. 
She could not doubt that he liked her society and conversa- 
tion ; his manner had sometimes expressed more than cold 
esteem. Lady Delacour had assured her that it expressed 
love ; but Lady Delacour was an imprudent woman in her own 
conduct, and not scrupulous as to that of others. Belinda was 
not guided by her opinions of propriety ; and now that her lady- 
ship was confined to her bed, and not in a condition to give 
her either advice or protection, she felt that it was peculiarly in- 
cumbent on her to guard, not only her conduct from reproach, but 
her heart from the hopeless misery of an illplaced attachment. 
She examined herself with firm impartiality; she recollected 
the excessive pain that she had endured, when she first heard 
Clarence Hervey say, that Belinda Portman was a compound 
of art and affectation ; but this she thought was only the pain 
of offended pride — of proper pride. She recollected the 
extreme anxiety she had felt, even within the last four-and- 
twenty hours, concerning the opinion which he might form of 
the transaction about the key of the boudoir — but this anxiety 
she justified to herself ; it was due, she thought, to her reputa- 
tion ; it would have been inconsistent with female delicacy to 
have been indifferent about the suspicions that necessarily 

141 



BELINDA 

arose from the circumstances in which she was placed. Before 
Belinda had completed her self-examination, Clarence Hervey 
called to inquire sifter Lady Delacour. Whilst he spoke of her 
ladyship, and of his concern for the dreadfid accident of which 
he believed himself to be in a great measure the cause, his 
manner and language were animated and unaffected ; but the 
moment that this subject was exhausted, he became embar- 
rassed ; though he distinctly expressed perfect confidence and 
esteem for her, he seemed to wish, and yet to be unable, to 
support the character of a friend, contradistinguished to an 
admirer. He seemed conscious that he could not, with pro- 
priety, advert to the suspicions and jealousy which he had felt 
the preceding night ; for a man who has never declared love 
would be absurd and impertinent were he to betray jealousy. 
Clarence was destitute neither of address nor presence of 
mind; but an accident happened, when he was just taking 
leave of Miss Portman, which threw him into utter confusion. 
It surprised, if it did not confound, Belinda. She had forgotten 

to ask Dr. X for his direction ; and as she thought it 

might be necessary to write to him concerning Lady Delacour's 
health, she begged of Mr. Hervey to give it to her. He took 
a letter out of his pocket, and wrote the direction with a pencil ; 
but as he opened the paper, to tear off the outside, on which 
he had been writing, a lock of hair dropped out of the letter ; he 

. hastily stooped for it, and as he took it up from the ground the 
lock unfolded. Belinda, though she cast but one involuntary, 

\ hasty glance at it, was struck with the beauty of its colour, and 
its uncommon length. The confusion of Clarence Hervey 
convinced her that he was extremely interested about the 
person to whom the hair belonged, and the species of alarm 
which she had felt at this discovery opened her eyes effectually 
to the state of her own heart. She was sensible that the sight 
of a lock of hair, however long, or however beautiful, in the 
hands of any man but Clarence Hervey, could not possibly 
have excited any emotion in her mind. * Fortunately,' thought 
she, * I have discovered that he is attached to another, whilst 
it is yet in my power to command my affections ; and he shall 
see that I am not so weak as to form any false expectations 
from what I must now consider as mere commonplace flattery.' 
Belinda was glad that Lady Delacour was not present at the 
discovery of the lock of hair, as she was aware that she would 

142 



DIFFICULTIES 

have rallied her unmercifully upon the occasion ; and she 
rejoiced that she had not been prevailed upon to give Madame 
la Comiesse de Pomenars a lock of her belU chevelurt. She 



C*.. 



could not help thinking, from the recoUeaion of several minute 
circumstances, that Clarence Hervey had endeavoured to gain 
an interest in her affections, and she felt that there would be 
great impropriety in receiving his ambiguous visits during Lady 
143 



BELINDA 

Delacour's confinement to her room. She therefore gave 
orders that Mr. Hervey should not in future be admitted, till 
her ladyship should again see company. This precaution 
proved totally superfluous, for Mr. Hervey never called again 
during the whole course of Lady Delacour's confinement, though 
his servant regularly came every morning with inquiries after 
her ladyship's health. She kept her room for about ten days ; 
a confinement to which she submitted with extreme impatience : 
^ bodily pain she bore with fortitude, but constraint and ennui 
she could not endure. 

One morning as she was sitting up in bed, looking over a 
large collection of notes, and cards of inquiry after her health, 
she exclaimed — 

'These people will soon be tired of^ bidding their footman 
put it into their heads to inquire whether I am alive or dead — 
I must appear amongst them again, if it be only for a few 
minutes, or they will forget me. When I am fatigued, I will 
retire, and you, my dear Belinda, shall represent me, so tell 
them to open my doors, and unmuffle the knocker, let me 
hear the sound of music and dancing, and let the house be 
filled again, for Heaven's sake. Dr. Zimmermann should 
never have been my physician, for he would have prescribed 
solitude. Now solitude and silence are worse for me than 
poppy and mandragora. It is impossible to tell how much 
silence tires the ears of those who have not been used to it. 
For mercy's sake, Marriott,' continued her ladyship, turning to 
Marriott, who just then came softly into the room, * for mercy's 
sake, don't walk to all eternity on tiptoes : to see people gliding 
about like ghosts makes me absolutely fancy myself amongst 
the shades below. I would rather be stunned by the loudest 
peal that ever thundering footman gave at my door, than 
hear Marriott lock that boudoir, as if my life depended on my 
not hearing the key turned.' 

* Dear me ! I never knew any lady that was ill, except my 
lady, complain of one's not making a noise to disturb her,' said 
Marriott. 

* Then to please you, Marriott, I will complain of the only 
noise that does, or ever did disturb me — the screaming of your 
odious macaw.' 

* Would Chloe know if you're alive or dead, 
She bids her footman put it in her head. 

144 



DIFFICULTIES 

Now Marriott had a prodigious affection for this macaw, 
and she defended it with as much eagerness as if it had been 
her child. 

^ Odious ! oh dear, my lady ! to call my poor macaw odious 1 
— I didn't expect it would ever have come to this — I am sure 
I don't deserve it — Vm sure I don't deserve that my lady 
should have taken such a dislike to me.' 

And here Marriott actually burst into tears. *But, my 
dear Marriott,' said Lady Delacour, * I only object to your 
macaw — ^may not I dislike your macaw without disliking you ? 
— I have heard of " love me, love my dog " ; but I never 
heard of " love me, love my bird " — did you, Miss Portman ? ' 

Marriott turned sharply round upon Miss Portman, and 
darted a fiery look at her through the midst of her tears. 
* Then 'tis plain,' said she, * who I'm to thank for this ' ; and 
as she left the room her lady could not complain of her shut- 
ting the door after her too gently. 

* Give her three minutes' grace and she will come to her 
senses,' said Lady Delacour, 'for she is not a bankrupt in 
sense. Oh, three minutes won't do ; I must allow her three 
days' grace, I perceive,' said Lady Delacour, when Marriott 
half an hour afterward reappeared, with a face which might 
have sat for the picture of ill-humour. Her ill-humour, how- 
ever, did not prevent her from attending her lady as usual ; she 
performed all her customary offices with the most officious 
zeal but in profound silence, except every now and then she 
would utter a sigh, which seemed to say, * See how much I'm 
attached to my lady, and yet my lady hates my macaw ! ' 
Her lady, who perfectly understood the language of sighs, and 
felt the force of Marriott's, forebore to touch again on the 
tender subject of the macaw, hoping that when her house was 
once more filled with company, she should be relieved by 
more agreeable noises from continually hearing this pertina- 
cious tormentor. 

As soon as it was known that Lady Delacour was sufficiently 
recovered to receive company, her door was crowded with 
carriages ; and as soon as it was understood that balls and 
concerts were to go on as usual at her house, her * troops of 
friends' appeared to congratulate her, and to amuse them- 
selves. 

' How stupid it is,' said Lady Pelacour to Belinda, ' to 

L 145 



BELINDA 

hear congratulatory speeches from people, who would not care 
if I were in the black hole at Calcutta this minute ; but we 
must take the world as it goes — dirt and precious stones 
mixed together. Clarence Hervey, however, f^a pas une ame 
de bouej he, I am sure, has been really concerned for me : he 
thinks that his young horses were the sole cause of the whole 
evil, and he blames himself so sincerely, and so unjustly, that 
I really was half tempted to undeceive him ; but that would 
have been doing him an injury, for you know great philosophers 
tell us that there is no pleasure in the world equal to that of 
being well deceived, especially by the fair sex. Seriously, 
Belinda, is it my fancy, or is not Clarence wonderfully changed.? 
Is not he grown pale, and thin, and serious, not to say melan- 
choly ? What have you done to him since I have been ill ? * 

* Nothing — I have never seen him.* 

* No 1 then the thing is accounted for very naturally — ^he is 
in despair because he has been banished from your divine 
presence.' 

* More likely because he has been in anxiety about your 
ladyship,' said Belinda. 

' I will find out the cause, let it be what it may,' said Lady 
Delacour : * luckily my address is equal to my curiosity, and 
that is saying a great deal.' 

Notwithstanding all her ladyship's address, her curiosity 
was bafHed ; she could not discover Clarence Herveys secret, 
and she began to believe that the change which she had noticed 
in his looks and manner was imaginary or accidental. Had 
she seen more of him at this time, she would not have so easily 
given up her suspicions ; but she saw him only for a few 
minutes every day, and during that time he talked to her with 
all his former gaiety ; besides. Lady Delacour had herself a 
daily part to perform, which occupied almost her whole atten- 
tion. Notwithstanding the vivacity which she affected, Belinda 
perceived that she was now more seriously alarmed than she 
had ever been about her health. It was all that her utmost 
exertions could accomplish, to appear for a short time in the 
day — some evenings she came into company only for half an 
hour, on other days only for a few minutes, just walked through 
the rooms, paid her compliments to everybody, complained of 
a nervous headache, left Belinda to do the honours for her, 
and retired. 

146 



DIFFICULTIES 

Miss Portman was now really placed in a difficult and 
dangerous situation, and she had ample opportunities of 
learning and practising prudence. All the &shionabIe dissi- 
pated young men in London frequented Lady Dekcour's house, 
and it was said that they were drawn thither by the attractions 
of her fair representative. The gentlemen considered a niece 
of Mrs. Stanhope as their lawful prize. The ladies wondered 
that the men could think Belinda Portman a beauty ; but 
whilst they affected to scom, they sincerely feared her charms. 
Thus left entirely to her own discretion, she was exposed at 
once to the malignant eye of envy, and the insidious voice of 
flattery — she had no friend, no guide, and scarcely a protector : 
her aunt Stanhope's letters, indeed, continually supplied her 
with advice, bttt with advice which she could not follow consist- 
ently with her own feelings and principles. Lady Delacour, 
even if she had been well, was not a person on whose counsels 
she could rely ; our heroine was not one of those daring spirits, 
who are ambitious of acting for themselves ; she felt the utmost 
diffidence of her own powers, yet at the same time a firm 
resolution not to be led even by timidity into follies which the 
example of Lady Delacour had taught her to despise. 
Belinda's prudence seemed to increase with the necessity for 
its exertion. It was not the mercenary wily prudence of a. 
young lady, who has been taught to think it virtue to sacrifice 
the affections of her heart to the interests of her fortune — it 
was not the prudence of a cold and selfish, but of a modest 
and generous woman. She found it most difficult to satisfy 
herself in her conduct towards Clarence Hervey: he seemed 
mortified and miserable if she treated him merely as a common 
acquaintance, yet she felt the danger of admitting him to the 
familiarity of friendship. Had she been thoroughly convinced 
that he was attached to some other woman, she hoped that she 
could freely converse with him, and look upon htm as a married 
man ; but notwithstanding the lock of beautiful hair, she could 
not entirely divest herself of the idea that she was belov 
when she observed the extreme eagerness with which Gare 
Hervey watched all her motions, and followed her with his 
at if his fate depended upon her. She remarked that 
endeavoured as much as possible to prevent this species 
attention from being noticed, either by the public or by hers 
his manner towards her every day became more distant i 
M7 



BELINDA 

respectful, more constrained and embarrassed ; but now and 
then a different look and expression escaped. She had often 
heard of Mr. Herve/s great address in affairs of gallantry, and 
she was sometimes inclined to believe that he was trifling with 
her, merely for the glory of a conquest over her heart ; at other 
times she suspected him of deeper designs upon her, such as 
would deserve contempt and detestation ; but upon the whole 
she was disposed to believe that he was entangled by some 
former attachment from which he could not extricate himself 
with honour ; and upon this supposition she thought him 
worthy of her esteem, and of her pity. 

About this time Sir Philip Baddely began to pay a sort of 
lounging attention to Belinda : he knew that Clarence Hervey 
liked her, and this was the principal cause of his desire to 
attract her attention. * Belinda Portman ' became his favourite 
toast, and amongst his companions he gave himself the air of 
talking of her with rapture. 

' Rochfort,' said he, one day, to his friend, * damme, if I 
was to think of Belinda Portman in any way — you take me — 
Clary would look damned blue — hey? — damned blue, and 
devilish small, and cursed silly too — hey ? ' 

*'Pon honour, I should like to see him, said Rochfort : 
* 'pon honour, he deserves it from us, Sir Phil, and PU stand 
your friend with the girl, and it will do no harm to give her a 
hint of Clary's Windsor flame, as a dead secret — ^'pon honour, 
he deserves it from us.* 

Now it seems that Sir Philip Baddely and Mr. Rochfort, 
during the time of Clarence Herve/s intimacy with them, 
observed that he paid frequent visits at Windsor, and they took 
it into their heads that he kept a mistress there. They were 
very curious to see her : and, unknown to Clarence, they made 
several attempts for this purpose : at last one evening, when 
they were certain that he was not at Windsor, they scaled the 
high garden wall of the house which he frequented, and actually 
obtained a sight of a beautiful young girl and an elderly lady, 
whom they took for her gouvemante. This adventure they 
kept a profound secret from Clarence, because they knew that 
he would have quarrelled with them immediately, and would 
have called them to account for their intrusion They now 
determined to avail themselves of their knowledge, and of his 
ignorance of this circumstance : but they were sensible that it 

148 



DIFFICULTIES 

was necessary to go warily to work, lest they should betray 
themselves. Accordingly they began by dropping distant 
mysterious hints about Clarence Hervey to Lady Delacour and 
Miss Portman. Such for instance as — ^ Damme, we all know 
Clary's a perfect connoisseur in beauty — hey, Rochfort ? — one 
beauty at a time is not enough for him — hey, damme ? And 
it is not fashion, nor wit, nor elegance, and all that, that he 
looks for always? 

These observations were accompanied with the most signi- 
ficant looks. Belinda heard and saw all this in painful silence, 
but Lady Delacour often used her address to draw some farther 
explanation from Sir Philip : his regular answer was, * No, no, 
your ladyship must excuse me there ; I can't peach, damme — 
hey, Rochfort?' 

He was in hopes, from the reserve with which Miss Portman 
began to treat Clarence, that he should, without making any 
distinct charge, succeed in disgusting her with his rival. Mr. 
Hervey was about this time less assiduous than formerly in 
his visits at Lady Delacour's ; Sir Philip was there every day, 
and often for Miss Portman's entertainment exerted himself so 
far as to tell the news of the town. One morning, when 
Clarence Hervey happened to be present, the baronet thought 
it incumbent upon him to eclipse his rival in conversation, and 
he began to talk of the XsjsXfite champitre at Frogmore. 

* What a cursed unlucky overturn that was of yours, Lady 
Delacour, with those famous young horses 1 Why, what with 
this sprain, and this nervous business, you've not been able to 
stir out since the birthday, and you've missed the breakfast, 
and all that, at Frogmore — why, all the world stayed broiling 
in town on purpose for it, and you that had a card too — how 
damned provoking ! ' 

* I regret extremely that my illness prevented me from being 
at this charming fltej I regret it more on Miss Portman's 
account than on my own,' said her ladyship. Belinda assured 
her that she felt no mortification from the disappointment. 

* Oh, damme 1 but I would have driven you in my curricle,' 
said Sir Philip : * it was the finest sight and best conducted I 
ever saw, and only wanted Miss Portman to make it complete. 
We had gipsies, and Mrs. Mills the actress for the queen of 
the gipsies ; and she gave us a famous good song, Rochfort, 
you know — and then there was two children upon an ass — 

149 



BELINDA 

damme, I don't know how they came there, for the/re things 
one sees every day — and belonged only to two of the soldiers' 
wives — for we had the whole band of the Staffordshire playing at 
dinner, and we had some famous glees — and Fawcett gave us 
his laughing song, and then we had the launching of the ship, 
and only it was a boat, it would have been well enough — but 
damme, the song of Polly Oliver was worth the whole — except 
the Flemish Hercules, Ducrow, you know, dressed in light blue 
and silver, and — Miss Portman, I wish you had seen this — 
three great coach-wheels on his chin, and a ladder and two 
chairs and two children on them — and after that, he sported a 
musket and bayonet with the point of the bayonet on his 
chin — faith ! that was really famous ! But I forgot the Pyrrhic 
dance, Miss Portman, which was danmed fine too— danced in 
boots and spurs by those Hungarian fellows — they jump and 
turn about, and clap their knees with their hands, and put 
themselves in all sorts of ways — and then we had that song of 
Polly Oliver, as I told you before, and Mrs. Mills gave us — 
no, no — it was a drummer of the Staffordshire dressed as a 
gipsy girl, gave us The Cottage on the Moor^ the most charming 
thing, and would suit your voice. Miss Portman — damme, 
you'd sing it like an angel. — But where was I ? — Oh, then they 
had tea — and fireplaces built of brick, out in the air — ^and then 
the entrance to the ballroom was all a colonnade done with 
lamps and flowers, and that sort of thing — and there was 
some bon-mot (but that was in the morning) amongst the 
gipsies about an orange and the stadtholder — and then there 
was a Turkish dance, and a Polonese dance, all very fine, but 
nothing to come up to the Pyrrhic touch, which was a great 
deal the most knowing, in boots and spurs — damme, now, I 
can't describe the thing to you, 'tis a cursed pity you weren't 
there, damme.' 

Lady Delacour assured Sir Philip that she had been more 
entertained by the description than she could have been by 
the reality. — 'Clarence, was not it the best description you 
ever heard ? But pray favour us with a touch of the Pjrrrhic 
dance. Sir Philip.' 

Lady Delacour spoke with such polite earnestness, and the 
baronet had so little penetration and so much conceit, that he 
did not suspect her of irony : he eagerly began to exhibit the 
Pyrrhic dance, but in such a manner that it was impossible for 

150 



DIFFICULTIES 

human gravity to withstand the sight— zKochfort laughed first, 
Lady Delacour followed him, and Clarence Hervey and Belinda 
could no longer restrain themselves. 

* Damme, now I believe youVe all been quizzing me,* cried 
the baronet, and he fell into a sulky silence, eyeing Clarence 
Hervey and Miss Portman from time to time with what he 
meant for a knowing look. His silence and sulkiness lasted 
till Clarence took his leave. Soon afterward Belinda retired to 
the music-room. Sir Philip then begged to speak a few words 
to Lady Delacour, with a face of much importance : and after 
a preamble of nonsensical expletives, he said that his regard for 
her ladyship and Miss Portman made him wish to explain hints 
which had been dropped from him at times, and which he could 
not explain to her satis&ction, without a promise of inviolable 
secrecy. ' As Hervey is or was a sort of a friend, I can't mention 
this sort of thing without such a preliminary.' — Lady Delacour 
gave the preliminary promise, and Sir Philip informed her, that 
people began to take notice that Hervey was an admirer of Miss 
Portman, and that it might be a disadvantage to the young lady, 
as Mr. Hervey could have no serious intentions, because he 
had an attachment, to his certain knowledge, elsewhere. 

' A matrimonial attachment ? ' said Lady Delacour. 

' Why, damme, as to matrimony, I can't say ; but the girl's 
so famously beautiful, and Clary has been constant to her so 
many years ' 

' Many years 1 then she is not young ? ' 

' Oh, damme, yes, she is not more than seventeen, — and, let 
her be what else she will, she's a famous fine girl. I had a 
sight of her once at Windsor, by stealth.' 

And then the baronet described her after his manner. — 
* Where Clary keeps her now, I can't make out ; but he has 
taken her away from Windsor. She was then with a gouver- 
nante^ and is as proud as the devil, which smells like matrimony 
for Clary.' 

' And do you know this peerless damsel's name ? ' 

* I think the old Jezebel called her Miss St. Pierre — ay, 
damme, it was Virginia too — Virginia St. Pierre.* 

'Virginia St. Pierre, a pretty romantic name,' said Lady 
Delacour: 'Miss Portman and I are extremely obliged by 
your attention to the preservation of our hearts, and I promise 
you we shall keep your counsel and our own.' 



BELINDA 

Sir Philip then, with more than his usual complement of 
oaths, pronounced Miss Portman to be the finest girl he had 
ever seen, and took his leave. 

When Lady Delacour repeated this story to Belinda, she 
concluded by saying, < Now, my dear, you know Sir Philip 
Baddely has his own views in telling us all this — in telling ^'^w 
all this ; for evidently he admires you, and consequently hates 
Clarence. So I believe only half the man says ; and the other 
half, though it has made you turn so horribly pale, my love, 
I consider as a thing of no manner of consequence to you.' 

* Of no manner of consequence to me, I assure your lady- 
ship,' said Belinda ; * I have always considered Mr. Hervey 
as ' 

* Oh, as a common acquaintance, no doubt — but we'll pass 
over all those pretty speeches : I was going to say that this 
"mistress in the wood" can be of no consequence to your 
happiness, because, whatever that fool Sir Philip may think, 
Clarence Hervey is not a man to go and marry a girl who has 
been his mistress for half a dozen years. Do not look so 
shocked, my dear — I really cannot help laughing. I con- 
gratulate you, however, that the thing is no worse — it is all in 
rule and in course — when a man marries, he sets up new 
equipages, and casts off old mistresses ; or if you like to see 
the thing as a woman of sentiment rather than as a woman of 
the world, here is the prettiest opportunity for your lover's 
making a sacrifice. I am sorry I cannot make you smile, my 
dear ; but consider, as nobody knows this naughty thing but 
ourselves, we are not called upon to bristle up our morality, 
and the most moral ladies in the world do not expect men to 
be as moral as themselves : so we may suit the measure of 
our external indignation to our real feelings. Sir Philip can- 
not stir in the business, for he knows Clarence would call him 
out if his secret viz to Virginia were to come to light. I advise 
you dialler voire train with Clarence, without seeming to suspect 
him in the least ; there is nothing like innocence in these cases, 
my dear : but I know by the Spanish haughtiness of your air 
at this instant, that you would sooner die the death of the 
sentimental — than follow my advice.' 

Belinda, without any haughtiness, but with firm gentleness, 
replied, that she had no designs whatever upon Mr. Hervey, 
and that therefore there could be no necessity for any manceuvr- 

152 



DIFFICULTIES 

ing on her part ; — that the ambiguity of his conduct towards 
her had determined her long since to guard her affections, and 
that she had the satisfaction to feel that they were entirely 
under her command. 

' That is a great satisfaction, indeed, my dear,' said Lady 
Delacour. * It is a pity that your countenance, which is usually 
expressive enough, should not at this instant obey your wishes 
and express perfect felicity. But though you feel no pain from 
disappointed affection, doubtless the concern that you show arises 
from the necessity you are under of withdrawing a portion of 
your esteem from Mr. Hervey — this is the style for you, is it 
not ? After all, my dear, the whole may be a quizzification of 
Sir Philip's — ^and yet he gave me such a minute description of 
her person ! I am sure the man has not invention or taste 
enough to produce such a fancy piece.' 

. * Did he mention,' said Belinda, in a low voice, * the colour 
of her hair ? ' 

* Yes, light brown ; but the colour of this hair seems to 
affect you more than all the rest.' 

Here, to Belinda's great relief, the conversation was inter- 
rupted by the entrance of Marriott. From all she had heard, 
but especially from the agreement between the colour of the 
hair which dropped from Herve/s letter with Sir Philip's 
description of Virginia's, Miss Portman was convinced that 
Clarence had some secret attachment ; and she could not help 
blaming him in her own mind for having, as she thought, 
endeavoured to gain her affections, whilst he knew that his 
heart was engaged to another. Mr. Hervey, however, gave 
her no further reason to suspect him of any design to win her 
love ; for about this time his manner towards her changed, — 
he obviously endeavoured to avoid her ; his visits were short, 
and his attention was principally directed to Lady Delacour ; 
when she retired, he took his leave, and Sir Philip Baddely 
had the field to himself. The baronet, who thought that he 
had succeeded in producing a coldness between Belinda and his 
rival, was surprised to find that he could not gain any advantage 
for himself; for some time he had not the slightest thoughts of 
any serious connection with the lady, but at last he was piqued 
by her indifference, and by the raillery of his friend Rochfort. 

* 'Pon honour,' said Rochfort, * the girl must be in love with 
Clary, for she minds you no more than if you were nobody.' 

153 



BELINDA 

* I could make her sing to another tune, if I pleased,' said 
Sir Philip ; * but, damme, it would cost me too much — a wife's 
too expensive a thing, nowadays. Why, a man could have 
twenty curricles, and a fine stud, and a pack of hounds, and 
as many mistresses as he chooses into the bargain, for what it 
would cost him to take a wife. Oh, damme, Belinda Portman's 
a fine girl, but not worth so much as that comes to ; and yet, 
confound me, if I should not like to see how blue Clary would 
look, if I were to propose for her in good earnest — ^hey, 
Rochfort ? — I should like to pay him for the way he served us 
about that quiz of a doctor, hey ? ' 

* Ay,' said Rochfort, * you know he told us there was a tant 
pis and a tant rnieux in everything — he's not come to the tant 
pis yet. 'Pon honour. Sir Philip, the thing rests with you.' 

The baronet vibrated for some time between the fear of 
being taken in by one of Mrs. Stanhope's nieces, and the hope 
of triumphing over Clarence Hervey. At last what he called 
love prevailed over prudence, and he was resolved, cost him 
what it would, to have Belinda Portman. He had not the 
least doubt of being accepted, if he made a proposal of 
marriage; consequently, the moment that he came to this 
determination, he could not help assuming cTaruance the tone of 
a favoured lover. 

* Damme,' cried Sir Philip, one night, at Lady Delacour's 
concert, * I think that Mr. Hervey has taken out a patent for 
talking to Miss Portman ; but danmie if I give up this place, 
now I have got it,' cried the baronet, seating himself beside 
Belinda. 

Mr. Hervey did not contest his seat, and Sir Philip kept his 
post during the remainder of the concert ; but, though he had 
the field entirely to himself, he could not think of anything 
more interesting, more amusing, to whisper in Belinda's 
ear than, < Don't you think the candles want snuffing 
famously ? ' 



154 



THE MACAW 



CHAPTER XII 

THE MACAW 

The baronet determined the next day upon the grand attack. 
He waited upon Miss Portman with the certainty of being 
favourably received ; but he was, nevertheless, somewhat em- 
barrassed to know how to begin the conversation, when he 
foimd himself alone with the lady. 

He twirled and twisted a short stick that he held in his 
hand, and put it into and out of his boot twenty times, and at 
last he began with — * Lady Delacour's not gone to Harrowgate 
yet?' 

* No : her ladyship has not yet felt herself well enough to 
undertake the journey.* 

* That was a cursed unlucky overturn ! She may thank 
Clarence Hervey for that : if s like him, — he thinks he's a 
better judge of horses, and wine, and everything else, than 
anybody in the world. Damme, now if I don't believe he 
thinks nobody else but himself has eyes enough to see that a 
fine woman's a fine woman ; but I'd have him to know, that 
Miss Belinda Portman has been Sir Philip Baddely's toast 
these two months.' 

As this intelligence did not seem to make the expected im- 
pression upon Miss Belinda Portman, Sir Philip had recourse 
again to his little stick, with which he went through the sword 
exercise. After a silence of some minutes, and after walking 
to the window, and back again, as if to look for sense, he 
exclaimed, * How is Mrs. Stanhope now, pray. Miss Portman ? 
and your sister, Mrs. Tollemache ? she was the finest woman, 
I thought, the first winter she came out, that ever I saw, 
damme. Have you ever been told that you're like her ? ' 

* Never, sir.' 

* Oh, damn it then, but you are ; only ten times handsomer.' 
' Ten times handsomer than the finest woman you ever saw. 

Sir Philip ? ' said Belinda, smiling. 

* Than the finest woman I had ever seen then^ said Sir 
Philip ; ' for, damme, I did not know what it was to be in love 

155 



BELINDA 

then ' (here the baronet heaved an audible sigh) : ^ I always 
laughed at love, and all that, then^ and marriage particularly. 
I'll trouble you for Mrs. Stanhope's direction, Miss Portman ; 
I believe, to do the thing in style, I ought to write to her before 
I speak to you.' 

Belinda looked at him with astonishment ; and laying down 
the pencil with which she had just begun to write a direction 
to Mrs. Stanhope, she said, 'Perhaps, Sir Philip, to do the 
thing in style^ I ought to pretend at this instant not to under- 
stand you ; but such false delicacy might mislead you : permit 
me, therefore, to say, that if I have any concern in the letter 
which you are going to write to my aunt Stanhope ' 

* Well guessed 1 ' interrupted Sir Philip : * to be sure you 
have, and you're a charming girl — damn me if you aren't — for 
meeting my ideas in this way, which will save a cursed deal of 
trouble,' added the polite lover, seating himself on the sofa, 
beside Belinda. 

* To prevent your giving yourself any further trouble then, 
sir, on my account,' said Miss Portman 

*Nay, damme, don't catch at that unlucky word, trouble, 
nor look so cursed angry ; though it becomes you, too, uncom- 
monly, and I like pride in a handsome woman, if it was only 
for variety's sake, for it's not what one meets with often, now- 
adays. As to trouble, all I meant was, the trouble of writing 
to Mrs. Stanhope, which of course I thank you for saving me ; 
for to be sure, I'd rather (and you can't blame me for that) 
have my answer from your own charming lips, if it was only 
for the pleasure of seeing you |Dlush in this heavenly sort of 
style.' 

*To put an end to this heavenly sort of style, sir,' said 
Belinda, withdrawing her hand, which the baronet took as if 
he was confident of its being his willing prize, * I must ex- 
plicitly assure you, that it is not in my power to encourage 
your addresses. I am fully sensible,' added Miss Portman, 
* of the honour Sir Philip Baddely has done me, and I hope 
he will not be offended by the frankness of my answer.' 

* You can't be in earnest. Miss Portman 1 ' exclaimed the 
astonished baronet, 

* Perfectly in earnest. Sir Philip.' 

* Confusion seize me,' cried he, starting up, * if this isn't the 
most extraordinary thing I ever heard 1 Will you do me the 

156 



>t tt a larnist. Mia Part, 



Xilaimid Iki tuton 



1 



BELINDA 

honour, madsUn, to let me know your particular objections to 
Sir Philip Baddely ? ' 

' My objections/ said Belinda, ' cannot be obviated, and 
therefore it would be useless to state them.' 

*Nay, pray, ma'am, do me the favour — I only ask for 
information sake — is it to Sir Philip Baddel/s fortune, ;£ 15,000 
a year, you object, or to his family, or to his person ? — Oh, 
curse it I ' said he, changing his tone, ' you're only quizzing 
me to see how I should look — damn me, you did it too well, 
you little coquette I ' 

Belinda again assured him that she was entirely in earnest, 
and that she was incapable of the sort of coquetry which he 
ascribed to her. 

< Oh, damme, ma'am, then Pve no more to say — a coquette 
is a thing I understand as well as another, and if we had been 
only talking in the air, it would have been another thing ; but 
when I come at once to a proposal in form, and a woman 
seriously tells me she has objections that cannot be obviated, 
damme, what must I, or what must the world conclude, but 
that she's very unaccountable, or that she's engaged — which 
last I presume to be the case, and it would have been a satis- 
faction to me to have known it sooner — at any rate, it is a 
satis£&ction to me to know it now.' 

' I am sorry to deprive you. of so much satisfaction,' said 
Miss Portman, ' by assuring you, that I am not engaged to any 
one.' 

Here the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of 
Lord Delacour, who came to inquire of Miss Portman how his 
lady did. The baronet, after twisting his little black stick into 
all manner of shapes, finished by breaking it, and then having 
no other resource, suddenly wished Miss Portman a good 
morning, and decamped with a look of silly ill-hiunour. He 
was determined to write to Mrs. Stanhope, whose influence 
over her niece he had no doubt would be decisive in his 
favour. ' Sir Philip seems to be a little out of sorts this 
morning,' said Lord Delacour : ' I am afraid he's angry with 
me for interrupting his conversation ; but really I did not 
know he was here, and I wanted to catch you a moment alone, 
that I might, in the first place, thank you for all your goodness 
to Lady Delacour. She has had a tedious sprain of it ; these 
nervous fevers and convulsions — I don't understand them, but 

158 



THE MACAW 

I think Dr. X 's prescriptions seem to have done her good, 

for she is certainly better of late, and I am glad to hear music 
and people again in the house, because I know all this is what 
my Lady Delacour likes, and there is no reasonable indulgence 
that I would not willingly allow a wife ; but I think there is a 
medium in all things. I am not a man to be governed by a 
wife, and when I have once said a thing, I like to be steady 
and always shall. And I am sure Miss Portman has too much 
good sense to think me wrong: for now, Miss Portman, in 
that quarrel about the coach and horses, which you heard part 
of one morning at breakfast — I must tell you the beginning of 
that quarrel.' 

* Excuse me, my lord, but I would rather hear of the end 
than of the beginning of quarrels.' 

< That shows your good sense as well as your good nature. 
I wish you could make my Lady Delacour of your taste — she 
does not want sense — ^but then (I speak to you freely of all 
that lies upon my mind. Miss Portman, for I know — I know 
you have no delight in making mischief in a house), between 
you and me, her sense is not of the right kind. A woman 
may have too much wit — now too much is as bad as too little, 
and in a woman, worse ; and when two people come to 
quarrel, then wit on either side, but more especially on the 
wife's, you know is very provoking — ^*tis like concealed weapons, 
which are wisely forbidden by law. If a person kill another in 
a fray, with a concealed weapon, ma'am, by a sword in a cane, 
for instance, 'tis murder by the law. Now even if it were not 
contrary to law, I would never have such a thing in my cane 
to carry about with me ; for when a man's in a passion he 
forgets everything, and would as soon lay about him with a 
sword as with a cane : so it is better such a thing should not 
be in his power. And it is the same with wit, which would be 
safest and best out of the power of some people.' 

* But is it fair, my lord, to make use of wit yourself to abuse 
wit in others ? ' said Belinda, with a smile, which put his lord> 
ship into perfect good-humour with both himself and his lady. 

* Why, really,' said he, * there would be no living with Lady 
Delacour, if I did not come out with a little sly bit of wit now 
and then ; but it is what I am not in the habit of doing, I 
assure you, except when very hard pushed. But, Miss Port- 
man, as you like so much to hear the end of quarrels, here's 

159 



BELINDA 

the end of one which you have a particular right to hear some- 
thing of,' continued his lordship, taking out his pocket-book 
and producing some banknotes : * you should have received 
this before, madam, if I had known of the transaction sooner — 
of your part of it, I mean.' 

< Milord, de man call to speak about de burgundy you 
order, milord,' said Champfort, who came into the room with 
a sly, inquisitive face. 

*Tell him I'll see him immediately — show him into the 
parlour, and give him a newspaper to read.' 

* Yes, milord — ^milord has it in his pocket since he dress.' 

< Here it is,' said his lordship ; and as Champfort came 
forward to receive the newspaper, his eye glanced at the bank- 
notes, and then at Miss Portman. 

* Here,' continued Lord Delacour, as Champfort had left the 
room, * here are your two hundred guineas. Miss Portman ; 
and as I am going to this man about my burgundy, and shall 
be out all the rest of the day, let me trouble you the next time 
you see Lady Delacour to give her this pocket-book from me. 
I should be sorry that Miss Portman, from anything that has 
passed, should run away with the idea that I am a niggardly 
husband, or a tyrant, though I certainly like to be master in 
my own house. What are you doing, madam ? — that is your 
note, that does not go into the pocket-book, you know.' 

* Permit me to put it in, my lord,' said Belinda, returning 
the pocket-book to him, *and to beg you will give Lady 
Delacour the pleasure of seeing you : she has inquired several 
times whether your lordship were at home. I will run up to 
her dressing-room, and tell her that you are here.' 

' How lightly she goes on the wings of good nature I ' said 
Lord Delacour. * I can do no less than follow her ; for 
though I like to be treated with respect in my own house, 
there is a time for everything. I would not give Lady 
Delacour the trouble of coming down here to me with her 
sprained ankle, especially as she has inquired for me several 
times.' 

His lordship's visit was not of unseasonable length ; for he 
recollected that the man who came about the burgundy was 
waiting for him. But, perhaps, the shortness of the visit 
rendered it the more pleasing, for Lady Delacour afterward 
said to Belinda, * My dear, would you believe it, my Lord 

1 60 



THE MACAW 

Delacour was absolutely a perfect example of the useful and 
agreeable this morning — who knows but he may become the 
sublime and beautiful in time ? En attendant here are your 
two hundred guineas, my dear Belinda : a thousand thanks for 
the thing, and a million for the manner — manner is all in all 
in conferring favours. My lord, who, to do him justice, has 
too much honesty to pretend to more delicacy than he really 
possesses, told me that he had been taking a lesson from Miss 
Portman this morning in the art of obliging ; and really, for a 
grown gentleman, and for the first lesson, he comes on sur- 
prisingly. I do think, that by the time he is a widower his 
lordship will be quite another thing, quite an agreeable man — 
not a genius, not a Clarence Hervey — that you cannot expect. 
Apropos, what is the reason that we have seen so little of 
Clarence Hervey lately? He has certainly some secret 
attraction elsewhere. It cannot be that girl Sir Philip men- 
tioned; no, she's nothing new. Can it be at Lady Anne 
Percival's ? — or where can it be ? Whenever he sees me, I 
think he asks when we go to Harrowgate. Now Oakly Park 
is within a few miles of Harrowgate. I will not go there, that's 
decided. Lady Anne is an exemplary matron, so she is out of 
the case ; but I hope she has no sister excellence^ no niece, no 
cousin, to entangle our hero.' 

* Ours / ' said Belinda. 

* Well, yoursy then,' said Lady Delacour. 

* Mine ! ' 

* Yes, yours : I never in my life saw a better struggle between 
a sigh and a smile. But what have you done to poor Sir 
Philip Baddely ? My Lord Delacour told me — ^you know all 
people who have nothing else to say, tell news quicker than 
others — my Lord Delacour told me, that he saw Sir Philip 
part from you this morning in a terrible bad humour. Come, 
whilst you tell your story, help me to string these pearls ; that 
will save you from the necessity of looking at me, and will 
conceal your blushes : you need not be afraid of betraying Sir 
Philip's secrets ; for I could have told you long ago, that he 
would inevitably propose for you — the fact is nothing new or 
surprising to me, but I should really like to hear how ridiculous 
the man made himself.* 

* And that,' said Belinda, * is the only thing which I do not 
wish to tell your ladyship.* 

M i6i 



BELINDA 

* Lord, my dear, surely it is no secret that Sir Philip 
Baddely is ridiculous ; but you are so good natured that I can't 
be out of humour with you. If you won't gratify my curiosity, 
will you gratify my taste, and sing for me once more that 
charming song which none but you can sing to please me ? — 
I must learn it from you, absolutely.' 

Just as Belinda was beginning to sing, Marriott's macaw 
began to scream, so that Lady Delacour could not hear any- 
thing else. 

* Oh, that odious macaw ! ' cried her ladyship, * I can endure 
it no longer ' (and she rang her bell violently) : * it kept me 
from sleeping all last night — Marriott must give up this bird. 
Marriott, I cannot endure that macaw — you must part with it 
for my sake, Marriott. It cost you four guineas : I am sure I 
would give five with the greatest pleasure to get rid of it, for it 
is the torment of my life.' 

* Dear, my lady ! I can assure you it is only because they 
will not shut the doors after them below, as I desire. I am 
certain Mr. Champfort never shut a door after him in his life, 
nor never will if he was to live to the days of Methuselah.' 

* That is very little satisfaction to me, Marriott,' said Lady 
Delacour. 

* And indeed, my lady, it is very little satisfaction to me, to 
hear my macaw abused as it is every day of my life, for Mr. 
Champfort's fault.* 

< But it cannot be Champfort's fault that I have ears.' 

* But if the doors were shut, my lady, you wouldn't or 
couldn't hear — as I'll prove immediately,' said Marriott, and 
she ran directly and shut, according to her own account, 
'eleven doors which were stark staring wide open.' — *Now, 
my lady, you can't hear a single syllable of the macaw.' 

* No, but one of the eleven doors will open presently,' said 
Lady Delacour : * you will observe it is always more than ten 
to one against me.' 

A door opened, and the macaw was heard to scream. 
*The macaw must go, Marriott, that is certain,' said her 
ladyship firmly. 

* Then / must go, my lady,' said Marriott angrily, * that is 
certain ; for to part with my macaw is a thing I cannot do to 
please ^iwj/body.' Her eyes turned with indignation upon 
Belinda, from association merely ; because the last time that 

162 



THE MACAW 

she had been angry about her macaw, she had also been angry 
with Mrss Portman, whom she imagined to be the secret enemy 
of her favourite. 

* To stay another week in the house after my macaw's dis- 
carded in disgrace is a thing nothing shall prevail upon me to 
do.* She flung out of the room in a fury. 

* Good Heavens 1 am I reduced to this ? ' said Lady 
Delacour : ' she thinks that she has me in her power. No ; I 
can die without her : I have but a short time to live — I will 
not live a slave. Let the woman betray me, if she will. 
Follow her this moment, my dear generous friend ; tell her 
never to come into this room again : take this pocket-book, 
pay her whatever is due to her in the first place, and give her 
fifty guineas — observe ! — not as a bribe, but as a reward.* 

It was a delicate and difficult commission. Belinda found 
Marriott at first incapable of listening to reason. * I am sure 
there is nobody in the world that would treat me and my 
macaw in this manner, except my lady,' cried she ; * and 
somebody must have set her against me, for it is not natural to 
her : but since she can't bear me about her any longer, 'tis 
time I should be gone.' 

< The only thing of which Lady Delacour complained was 
the noise of this macaw,' said Belinda ; * it was a pretty bird — 
how long have you had it ? ' 

* Scarcely a month,' said Marriott, sobbing. 

* And how long have you lived with your lady ? ' 

* Six years ! — and to part with her after all ! ^ 

* And for the sake of a macaw 1 And at a time when your 
lady is so much in want of you, Marriott ! You know she 
cannot live long, and she has much to suffer before she dies, 
and if you leave her, and if in a fit of passion you betray the 
confidence she has placed in you, you will reproach yourself for 
it ever afterward. This bird — or all the birds in the world — 
will not be able to console you ; for you are of an affectionate 
disposition, I know, and sincerely attached to your poor lady.' 

* That I am ! — and to betray her ! — O Miss Portman, I 
would sooner cut off my hand than do it. And I have been 
tried more than my lady knows of, or you either, for Mr. 
Champfort, who is the greatest mischief-maker in the world, 
and is the cause, by not shutting the door, of all this dilemma ; 
for now, ma'am, I'm convinced, by the tenderness of your 

163 



BELINDA 









Speaking, that you are not the enemy to me I supposed, and I 
beg your pardon ; but I was going to say that Mr. Champfort, 
who saw the Jraccts between my lord and me, about the key 
and the door, the night of my lady's accident, has whispered 
it about at Lady Singleton's and everywhere — Mrs. Luttridge's 
maid, ma'am, who is my cousin, has pestered me with so many 
questions and offers, from Mrs. Luttridge and Mrs. Freke, of 
any money, if I would only tell who was in the boudoir — and 
I have always answered, nobody — and I defy them to get any- 
thing out of me. Betray my lady ! I'd sooner cut my tongue 
out this minute I Can she have such a base opinion of me, or 
can you, ma'am ? ' 

* No, indeed, I am convinced that you are incapable of be- 
traying her, Marriott ; but in all probability after you have left 
her ' 

' If my lady would let me keep my macaw,' interrupted 
Marriott, * I should never think of leaving her.' 

* The macaw she will not suffer to remain in the house, nor 
is it reasonable that she should : it deprives her of sleep — it 
kept her awake three hours this morning.' 

Marriott was beginning the history of Champfort and the 
doors again ; but Miss Portman stopped her by sajring, < All 
this is past now. How much is due to you, Mrs. Marriott ? 
Lady Delacour has commissioned me to pay you everything 
that is due to you.' 

' Due to me ! Lord bless me, ma'am, am I to go ?' 

* Certainly, it was your own desire — it is consequently your 
lady's : she is perfectly sensible of your attachment to her, and 
of your services, but she cannot suffer herself to be treated 
with disrespect. Here are fifty guineas, which she gives you 
as a reward for your past fidelity, not as a bribe to secure your 
future secrecy. You are at liberty, she desires me to say, to 
tell her secret to the whole world, if you choose to do so.' 

* O Miss Portman, take my macaw — do what you will with 
it — only make my peace with my lady,' cried Marriott, clasping 
her hands, in an agony of grief : * here are the fifty guineas, 
ma'am, don't leave them with me — I will never be disre- 
spectful again — take my macaw and all ! No, I will carry it 
myself to my lady.' 

Lady Delacour was surprised by the sudden entrance of 
Marriott, and her macaw. The chain which held the bird 

164 



V. 



THE MACAW 

Marriott put into her ladyship's hand without being able to 
say anything more than, ' Do what you please, my lady, with 
it — and with me.' 

Pacified by this submission. Lady Delacour granted 
Marriott's pardon, and she most sincerely rejoiced at this 
reconciliation. 

The next day Belinda asked the dowager Lady Boucher, 
who was going to a bird-fancier's, to take her with her, in hopes 
that she might be able to meet with some bird more musical 
than a macaw, to console Marriott for the loss of her scream- 
ing favourite. Lady Delacour conmiissioned Miss Portman to 
go to any price she pleased. ' If I were able, I would 
accompany you myself, my dear, for poor Marriott's sake, 
though I would almost as soon go to the Augean stable.' 

There was a bird-fencier in High Holbom, who had bought 
several of the hundred and eighty beautiful birds, which, as the 
newspapers of the day advertised, had been 'collected, after 
great labour and expense, by Mons. Marten and Co. for the 
Republican Museum at Paris, and lately landed out of the 
French brig UrselUy taken on her voyage from Cayenne to 
Brest, by his Majesty's Ship Unicom? 

When Lady Boucher and Belinda arrived at this bird- 
fancier's, they were long in doubt to which of the feathered 
beauties they should give the preference. Whilst the dowager 
was descanting upon their various perfections, a lady and three 
children came in ; she immediately attracted Belinda's atten- 
tion, by her likeness to Clarence Herve/s description of Lady 
Anne Percival — it was Lady Anne, as Lady Boucher, who 
was slightly acquainted with her, informed Belinda in a whisper. 

The children were soon eagerly engaged looking at the birds. 

* Miss Portman,' said Lady Boucher, * as Lady Delacour is 
so far from well, and wishes to have a bird that will not make 
any noise in the house, suppose you were to buy for Mrs. 
Marriott this beautiful pair of green parroquets ; or, stay, a 
goldfinch is not very noisy, and here is one that can play a 
thousand pretty tricks. Pray, sir, make it draw up water in 
its little bucket for us.' 

* O mamma ! ' said one of the little boys, * this is the very 
thing that is mentioned in Bewick's History of Birds, Pray 
look at this goldfinch, Helena, now it is drawing up its little 
bucket — but where is Helena ? here's room for you, Helena.' 

i6s 



BELINDA 

Whilst the little boys were looking at the goldfinch, Belinda 
felt somebody touch her gently : it was Helena Delacour. 

* Can I speak a few words to you ? ' said Helena. 
Belinda walked to the farthest end of the shop with her. 

* Is my mamma better ? ' said she, in a timid tone. * I 
have some goldfish, which you know cannot make the least 
noise : may I send them to her ? I heard that lady call you 
Miss Portman : I believe you are the lady who wrote such a 
kind postscript to me in mamma's last letter — that is the 
reason I speak so freely to you now. Perhaps you would 
write to tell me if mamma will see me ; and Lady Anne 
Percival would take me at any time, I am sure — but she goes 
to Oakly Park in a few days. I wish I might be with mamma 
whilst she is ill ; I would not make the least noise. But don't 
ask her, if you think it will be troublesome — only let me send 
the goldfish.' 

Belinda was touched by the manner in which this affec- 
tionate little girl spoke to her. She assured her that she would 
say all she wished to her mother, and she begged Helena to 
send the goldfish whenever she pleased. 

* Then,' said Helena, * I will send them as soon as I go 
/lome — as soon as I go back to Lady Anne Percival's, I mean.' 

Belinda, when she had finished speaking to Helena, heard 
the man who was showing the birds lament that he had not a 
blue macaw, which Lady Anne Percival was commissioned to 
procure for Mrs. Margaret Delacour. 

* Red macaws, my lady, I have in abundance ; but un- 
fortunately, a blue macaw I really have not at present ; nor 
have I been able to get one, though I have inquired amongst 
all the bird-fanciers in town ; and I went to the auction at 
Haydon Square on purpose, but could not get one.' 

Belinda requested Lady Boucher would tell her servants to 
bring in the cage that contained Marriott's blue macaw ; and 
as soon as it was brought she gave it to Helena, and begged 
that she would carry it to her Aunt Delacour. 

* Lord, my dear Miss Portman,' said Lady Boucher, draw- 
ing her aside, < I am afraid you will get yourself into a scrape ; 
for Lady Delacour is not upon speaking terms with this Mrs. 
Margaret Delacour — she cannot endure her; you know she 
is my Lord Delacour's aunt.' 

Belinda persisted in sending the macaw, for she was in 

1 66 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

hopes that these terrible family quarrels might be made up, if 
either party would condescend to show any disposition to 
oblige the other. 

Lady Anne Percival understood Miss Portman's civility as 
it was meant. 

* This is a bird of good omen,' said she ; * it augurs family 
peace.' 

* I wish you would do me the favour, Lady Boucher, to in- 
troduce me to Miss Portman,' continued Lady Anne. 

* The very thing I wished 1 ' cried Helena. 

* A few minutes' conversation passed afterward upon different 
subjects, and Lady Anne Percival and Belinda parted with a 
mutual desire to see more of each other. 



CHAPTER XIII 

SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

When Belinda got home. Lady Delacour was busy in the 
library looking over a collection of French plays with the ci- 
devant Count de N ; a gentleman who possessed such 

singular talents for reading dramatic compositions, that many 
people declared that they would rather hear him read a play 
than see it performed at the theatre. Even those who were 
not judges of his merit, and who had little taste for literature, 
crowded to hear him, because it was the fashion. Lady 
Delacour engaged him for a reading party at her house, and 
he was consulting with her what play would be most amusing 
to his audience. * My dear Belinda ! I am glad you are 
come to give us your opinion,' said her ladyship ; * no one has 
a better taste : but first I should ask you what you have done 
at your bird-fancier's ; I hope you have brought home some 
homed cock^ or some monstrously beautiful creature for 
Marriott. If it has not a voice like the macaw I shall be 
satisfied ; but even if it be the bird of paradise, I question 
whether Marriott will like it as well as its screaming 
predecessor.' 

^ See Adventures of a Guinea^ vol. i. chap. 3cvi. 

167 



BELINDA 

* I am sure she will like what is coming for her,' said 
Belinda, * and so will your ladyship ; but do not let me 
interrupt you and Monsieur le Comte.* And as she spoke, she 
took up a volume of plays which lay upon the table. 

* Naniney or La Prude^ which shall we have ? ' said Lady 
Delacour : * or what do you think of DEcossaise f ' 

* The scene of LEcosscUse is laid in London,' said Belinda ; 
< I should think with an English audience it would therefore be 
popular.' 

* Yes ! so it will/ said Lady Delacour : * then let it be 
UEcossaise, M. le Comte I am sure will do justice to the 
character of Friport the Englishman, " qui s^ait donner, mais 
qui ne sgait pas vivre." My dear, I forgot to tell you that 
Clarence Hervey has been here : it is a pity you did not come 
a little sooner, you would have heard a charming scene of The 
School for Scandal read by him. M. le Comte was quite 
delighted ; but Clarence was in a great hurry, he would only 
give us one scene, he was going to Mr. PercivaFs on business. 
I am sure what I told you the other day is true : but, how- 
ever, he has promised to come back to dine with me — M. le 
Comte, you will dine with us, I hope ? * 

The count was extremely sorry that it was impossible — he 
was engaged. Belinda suddenly recollected that it was time to 
dress for dinner ; but just as the count took his leave, and as 
she was going upstairs, a footman met her, and told her that 
Mr. Hervey was in the drawing-room, and wished to speak to 
her. Many conjectures were formed in Belinda's mind as she 
passed on to the drawing-room ; but the moment that she 
opened the door, she knew the nature of Mr. Hervey's business, 
for she saw the glass globe containing Helena Delacour's gold- 
fishes standing on the table beside him. * I have been com- 
missioned to present these to you for Lady Delacour,' said Mr. 
Hervey, * and I have seldom received a commission that has 
given me so much pleasure. I perceive that Miss Portman is 
indeed a real friend to Lady Delacour — how happy she is to 
have such a friend ! ' 

After a pause Mr. Hervey went on speaking of Lady Dela- 
cour, and of his earnest desire to see her as happy in domestic 
life as she appeared to be in public. He frankly confessed, 
that when he was first acquainted with her ladyship, he had 
looked upon her merely as a dissipated woman of fashion, and 

i68 



.■_i 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

he had considered only his own amusement in cultivating her 
society : * But,' continued he, * of late I have formed a different 
opinion of her character; and I think, from what I have 
observed, that Miss Portman's ideas on this subject agree with 
mine. I had laid a plan for making her ladyship acquainted 
with Lady Anne Percival, who appears to me one of the most 
amiable and one of the happiest of women. Oakly Park is 
but a few miles from Harrowgate. — But I am disappointed in 
this scheme ; Lady Delacour has changed her mind, she says, 
and will not go there. Lady Anne, however, has just told me 
that, though it is July, and though she loves the country, she 
will most willingly stay in town a month longer, as she thinks 
that, with your assistance, there is some probability of her 
effecting a reconciliation between Lady Delacour and her 
husband's relations, with some of whom Lady Anne is inti- 
mately acquainted. To begin with my friend, Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour : the macaw was most graciously received, and I 
flatter myself that I have prepared Mrs. Delacour to think 
somewhat more favourably of her niece than she was wont to 
do. All now depends upon Lady Delacour's conduct towards 
her daughter: if she continues to treat her with neglect, I 
shall be convinced that I have been mistaken in her character.' 

Belinda was much pleased by the openness and the unaffected 
good nature with which Clarence Hervey spoke, and she cer- 
tainly was not sorry to hear from his own lips a distinct ex- 
planation of his views and sentiments. She assured him that 
no effort that she could make with propriety should be wanting 
to effect the desirable reconciliation between her ladyship and 
her family, as she perfectly agreed with him in thinking that 
Lady Delacour's character had been generally misunderstood 
by the world. 

*Yes,' said Mr. Hervey, *her connection with that Mrs. 
Freke hurt her more in the eyes of the world than she was 
aware of. It is tacitly understood by the public, that every 
lady goes bail for the character of her female friends. If 
Lady Delacour had been so fortunate as to meet with such a 
friend as Miss Portman in her early life, what a different 
woman she would have been I She once said some such thing 
to me herself, and she never appeared to me so amiable as at 
that moment.' 

Mr. Hervey pronounced these last words in a manner more 

169 



BELINDA 

than usually animated ; and whilst he spoke, Belinda stooped 
to gather a sprig from a myrtle, which stood on the hearth. 
She perceived that the myrtle, which was planted in a large 
china vase, was propped up on one side with the broken bits 
of Sir Philip Baddel/s little stick: she took them up, and 
threw them out of the window. * Lady Delacour stuck those 
fragments there this morning,' said Clarence, smiling, *as 
trophies. She told me of Miss Portman's victory over the 
heart of Sir Philip Baddely ; and Miss Portman should certainly 
have allowed them to remain there, as indisputable evidence in 
favour of the baronet's taste and judgment.* 

Clarence Hervey appeared under some embarrassment, and 
seemed to be restrained by some secret cause from laying open 
his real feelings : his manner varied continually. Belinda could 
not avoid seeing his perplexity — she had recourse again to 
the goldfishes and to Helena : upon these subjects they could 
both speak very fluently. Lady Delacour made her appearance 
by the time that Clarence had finished repeating the Abbe 
Nollet's experiments, which he had heard from his friend Doctor 
X . 

* Now, Miss Portman, the transmission of sound in water,' 
said Clarence 

* Deep in philosophy, I protest ! ' said Lady Delacour, as she 
came in. 'What is this about the transmission of sound in 
water ? — Ha ! whence come these pretty goldfishes ? ' 

* These goldfishes,' said Belinda, *are come to console 
Marriott for the loss of her macaw.' 

* Thank you, my dear Belinda, for these mute comforters,' 
said her ladyship ; * the very best things you could have 
chosen.' 

* I have not the merit of the choice,' said Belinda, * but I am 
heartily glad that you approve of it.' 

* Pretty creatures,' said Lady Delacour : * no fish were ever 
so pretty since the days of the prince of the Black Islands in the 
Arabian Tales. And am I obliged to you, Clarence, for these 
subjects ? ' 

* No ; I have only had the honour of bringing them to your 
ladyship from ' 

*From whom? — Amongst all my numerous acquaintance, 
have I one in the world who cares a goldfish about me ? — Stay, 
don't tell me, let me guess — Lady Newland ? — No ; you shake 

170 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

your heads. I guessed her ladyship, merely because I know she 
wants to bribe me some way or other to go to one of her stupid 
entertainments ; she wants to pick out of me taste enough to 
spend a fortune. But you say it was not Lady Newland ? — 
Mrs. Hunt then perhaps ? for she has two daughters whom she 
wants me to ask to my concerts. It was not Mrs. Hunt ? — 
Well, then, it was Mrs. Masterson ; for she has a mind to go 
with me to Harrowgate, where, by the bye, I shall not go ; so I 
won't cheat her out of her goldfishes ; it was Mrs. Masterson, 
hey?' 

* No. But these little goldfishes came from a person who 
would be very glad to go with you to Harrowgate 1 * said 
Clarence Hervey. * Or who would be very glad to stay with 
you in town,' said Belinda : * from a person who wants nothing 
from you but — your love.' 

* Male or female ? ' said Lady Delacour. 

* Female.' 

* Female ? I have not a female friend in the world but your- 
self, my dear Belinda ; nor do I know another female in the 
world, whose love I should think about for half an instant. But 
pray tell me the name of this unknown friend of mine, who wants 
nothing from me but love.' 

* Excuse me,' said Belinda ; * I cannot tell her name, unless 
you will promise to see her.' 

* You have really made me impatient to see her,' said Lady 
Delacour : * but I am not able to go out, you know, yet ; and 
with a new acquaintance, one must go through the ceremony 
of a morning visit. Now, en conscience^ is it worth while ? ' 

* Very well worth while,' cried Belinda and Clarence Hervey 
eagerly. 

* Pihypardi/ as M. le Comte exclaims continually, Ah, pardi! 
You are both wonderfully interested in this business. It is some 
sister, niece, or cousin of Lady Anne Percival's ; or — no, Belinda 
looks as if I were wrong. Then, perhaps, it is Lady Anne her- 
self? — Well, take me where you please, my dear Belinda, and 
introduce me where you please : I depend on your taste and 
judgment in all things ; but I really am not yet able to pay 
morning visits.' 

* The ceremony of a morning visit is quite unnecessary here,' 
said Belinda : * I will introduce the unknown friend to you 
to-morrow, if you will let me invite her to your reading party.' 

171 



BELINDA 

* With pleasure. She is some charming SmigrSe of Clarence 
Herve/s acquaintance. But where did you meet with her this 
morning ? You have both of you conspired to puzzle me. Take 
it upon yourselves, then, if this new acquaintance should not, 
as Ninon de PEnclos used to say, quit cost. If she be half as 
agreeable and gracefuly Clarence, as Madame la Comtesse de 
Pomenars, I should not think her acquaintance too dearly pur- 
chased by a dozen morning visits.' 

Here the conversation was interrupted by a thundering knock 
at the door. 

* Whose carriage is it ? ' said Lady Delacour. * Oh ! Lady 
Newland's ostentatious livery ; and here is her ladyship getting 
out of her carriage as awkwardly as if she had never been in one 
before. Overdressed, like a true city dame ! Pray, Clarence, 
look at her, entangled in her bale of gold muslin, and conscious 
of her bulse of diamonds ! — " Worth, if Pm worth a farthing, five 
hundred thousand pounds bank currency ! " she says or seems 
to say, whenever she comes into a room. Now let us see her 
entrde * 

* But, my dear,' cried Lady Delacour, starting at the sight 
of Belinda, who was still in her morning dress, * absolutely be- 
low par ! — Make your escape to Marriott, I conjure you, by all 
your fears of the contempt of a lady, who will at the first look 
estimate you, aujuste^ to a farthing a yard.' 

As she left the room, Belinda heard Clarence Hervey repeat 
to Lady Delacour — 

* Give me a look, give me a fece, 
That makes simplicity a grace ; 
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free * 



he paused — but Belinda recollected the remainder of the 

stanza — 

Such sweet neglect more taketh me 

Than all th* adulteries of art, 

That strike mine eyes, but not mine heart. 

It was observed, that Miss Portman dressed herself this 
day with the most perfect simplicity. 

Lady Delacour's curiosity was raised by the description 
which Belinda and Clarence Hervey had given of the new 
acquaintance who sent her the goldfishes, and who wanted 
nothing from her but her love. 

172 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

Miss Portman told her that the unknown would probably 
come half an hour earlier to the reading party than any of the 
rest of the company. Her ladyship was alone in the library, 
when Lady Anne Percival brought Helena, in consequence of 
a note from Belinda. 

Miss Portman ran downstairs to the hall to receive her: 
the little girl took her hand in silence. 'Your mother was 
much pleased with the pretty goldfishes/ said Belinda, 'and 
she will be still more pleased, when she knows that they came 
from you : — she does not know that yet* 

' I hope she is better to-day ? I will not make the least 
noise,' whispered Helena, as she went upstairs on tiptoe. 

'You need not be afraid to make a noise — you need not 
walk on tiptoe, nor shut the doors softly ; for Lady Delacour 
seems to like all noises except the screaming of the macaw. 
This way, my dear.* 

' Oh, I forgot — it is so long since ! — Is mamma up and 
dressed ? ' 

* Yes. She has had concerts and balls since her illness. You 
will hear a play read to-night,' said Belinda, * by that French 
gentleman whom Lady Anne Percival mentioned to me yesterday.' 

' But there is a great deal of company, then, with mamma ? ' 

* Nobody is with her now : so come into the library with 
me,' said Belinda. 'Lady Delacour, here is the young lady 
who sent you the goldfishes.' 

* Helena ! ' cried Lady Delacour. 

* You must, I am sure, acknowledge that Mr. Hervey was 
in the right when he said that the lady was a striking resem- 
blance of your ladyship.' 

* Mr. Hervey knows how to flatter. I never had that in- 
genuous countenance, even in my best days : but certainly the 
hair of her head is like mine — ^and her hands and arms. But 
why do you tremble, Helena? Is there anything so very 
terrible in the looks of your mother ? ' 

* No, only ' 

* Only what, my dear ? ' 

* Only — I was afraid — you might not like me.' 

*Who has filled your little foolish head with these vain 
fears ? Come, simpleton, kiss me, and tell me how comes it 
that you are not at Oakly Hall, or — What's the name of the 
place ? — Oakly Park ? ' 

173 



' Lady Delatimr, kerf is tki yov^ ladywhii itni ytu fju goldjisliti.' 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

* Lady Anne Percival would not take me out of town, she 
said, whilst you were ill ; because she thought that you might 
wish — 1 mean she thought that I should like to see you — if 
you pleased.* 

* Lady Anne is very good — very obliging — veiy considerate.' 

* She is very good-natured,' said Helena. 

* You love this Lady Anne Percival, I perceive.' 

* Oh yes, that I do. She has been so kind to me ! I love 
her as if she were ^ 

* As if she were — What ? finish your sentence.' 

* My mother,' said Helena, in a low voice, and she blushed. 

* You love her as well as if she were your mother,' repeated 
Lady Delacour : * that is intelligible : speak intelligibly what- 
ever you say, and never leave a sentence unfinished.' 

* No, ma'am.' 

* Nothing can be more ill-bred, nor more absurd ; for it 
shows that you have the wish without the power to conceal 
your sentiments. Pray, my dear,' continued Lady Delacour, 
* go to Oakly Park immediately — all farther ceremony towards 
me may be spared.' 

* Ceremony, mamma ! ' said the little girl, and the tears 
came into her eyes. Belinda sighed ; and for some moments 
there was a dead silence. 

* I mean only to say. Miss Portman,' resumed Lady Dela- 
cour, < that I hate ceremony : but I know that there are people 
in the world who love it, who think all virtue, and all affection, 
depend on ceremony — who are 

* Content to dwell in decencies for ever. 

I shall not dispute their merits. Verily, they have their re- 
ward in the good opinion and good word of all little minds, 
that is to say, of above half the world. I envy them not their 
hard-earned fame. Let ceremony curtsey to ceremony with 
Chinese decorum ; but, when ceremony expects to be paid 
with affection, I beg to be excused.' 

* Ceremony sets no value upon affection, and therefore 
would not desire to be paid with it,' said Belinda. 

* Never yet,' continued Lady Delacour, pursuing the train 
of her own thoughts without attending to Belinda, * never yet 
was anything like real affection won by any of these cere- 
monious people.' 

' 175 



BELINDA 

* Never,' said Miss Portman, looking at Helena ; who, 
having quickness enough to perceive that her mother aimed 
this tirade against ceremony at Lady Anne Percival, sat in the 
most painful embarrassment, her eyes cast down, and her face 
and neck colouring all over. * Never yet,* said Miss Portman, 
*did a mere ceremonious person win anything like real affec- 
tion, especially from children, who are often excellent, because 
unprejudiced, judges of character.' 

* We are all apt to think, that an opinion that differs from 
our own is a prejudice,' said Lady Delacour: *what is to 
decide ? ' 

< Facts, I should think,' said Belinda. 

* But it is so difficult to get at facts, even about the merest 
trifles,' said Lady Delacour. 'Actions we see, but their 
causes we seldom see — an aphorism worthy of Confucius him- 
self : now to apply. Pray, my dear Helena, how came you 
by the pretty goldfishes that you were so good as to send to 
me yesterday ! ' 

* Lady Anne Percival gave them to me, ma'am.' 

* And how came her ladyship to give them to you, ma'am ? ' 

< She gave them to me,' said Helena, hesitating. 

* You need not blush, nor repeat to me that she gave them 
to you ; that I have heard already — that is the fact : now for 
the cause — unless it be a secret. If it be a secret which you 
have been desired to keep, you are quite right to keep it. I 
make no doubt of its being necessary, according to some 
systems of education, that children should be taught to keep 
secrets ; and I am convinced (for Lady Anne Percival is, I 
have heard, a perfect judge of propriety) that it is peculiarly 
proper that a daughter should know how to keep secrets from 
her mother : therefore, my dear, you need not trouble yourself 
to blush or hesitate any more — I shall ask no farther questions : 
I was not aware that there was any secret in the case.' 

* There is no secret in the world in the case, mamma,' said 
Helena ; * I only hesitated because ' 

* You hesitated only because, I suppose you mean. I pre- 
sume Lady Anne Percival will have no objection to your 
speaking good English ? ' 

* I hesitated only because I was afraid it would not be right 
to praise myself. Lady Anne Percival one day asked us 
all ' 

176 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

'Us all?' 

* I mean Charles, and Edward, and me, to give her an 
account of some experiments, on the hearing of fishes, which 
Dr. X had told to us ; she promised to give the gold- 
fishes, of which we were all very fond, to whichever of us 
should give the best account of them — Lady Anne gave the 
fishes to me.' 

' And is this all the secret ? So it was real modesty made 
her hesitate, Belinda? I beg your pardon, my dear, and 
Lady Anne's : you see how candid I am, Belinda. But one 
question more, Helena: Who put it into your head to send 
me your goldfishes ? ' 

' Nobody, mamma ; no one put it into my head. But I 
was at the bird-fancier's yesterday, when Miss Portman was 
trying to get some bird for Mrs. Marriott, that could not 
make any noise to disturb you ; so I thought my fishes would 
be the nicest things for you in the world ; because they cannot 
make the least noise, and they are as pretty as any birds in 
the world — prettier, I think — and I hope Mrs. Marriott thinks 
so too.' 

* I don't know what Marriott thinks about the matter, but I 
can tell you what I think,' said Lady Delacour, ' that you are 
one of the sweetest little girls in the world, and that you would 
make me love you if I had a heart of stone, which I have not, 
whatever some people may think. — Kiss me, my child ! ' 

The little girl sprang forwards, and threw her arms round 
her mother, exclaiming, * O mamma, are you in earnest ? ' 
and she pressed close to her mother's bosom, clasping her 
with all her force. 

Lady Delacour screamed, and pushed her daughter away. 

* She is not angry with you, my love,' said Belinda, * she is 
in sudden and violent pain — don't be alarmed — she will be 
better soon. No, don't ring the bell, but try whether you can 
open these window-shutters, and throw up the sash.' 

While Belinda was supporting Lady Delacour, and whilst 
Helena was trying to open the window, a servant came into 
the room to announce the Count de N . 

*Show him into the drawing-room,' said Belinda. Lady 
Delacour, though in great pain, rose and retired to her dressing- 
room. * I shall not be able to go down to these people yet,' 
said she ; ' you must make my excuses to the count and to 

N 177 



BELINDA 

everybody ; and tell poor Helena I was not angry, though I 
pushed her away. Keep her below stairs : I will come as 
soon as I am able. Send Marriott. Do not forget, my dear, 
to tell Helena I was not angry.' 

The reading party went on, and Lady Delacour made her 
appearance as the company were drinking orgeat, between the 
fourth and fifth act. * Helena, my dear,^ said she, * will you 
bring me a glass of orgeat ? ' 

Clarence Hervey looked at Belinda with a congratulatory 
smile: *do not you think,' whispered he, *that we shall 
succeed ? Did you see that look of Lady Delacour's ? ' 

Nothing tends more to increase the esteem and affection of 
two people for each other than their having one and the same 
benevolent object. Clarence Hervey and Belinda seemed to 
know one another's thoughts and feelings this evening better 
than they had ever done before during the whole course of 
their acquaintance. 

After the play was over, most of the company went away ; 
only a select party of beaux esprits stayed to supper ; they were 
standing at the table at which the count had been reading : 
several volumes of French plays and novels were lying there, 
and Clarence Harvey, taking up one of them, cried, * Come, 
let us try our fate by the Sortes Virgilianae.* 

Lady Delacour opened the book, which was a volume of 
Marmontel's Tales. 

* La femme comme il y en a peu ! ' exclaimed Hervey. 

* Who will ever more have faith in the Sortes Virgilianae ? ' 
said Lady Delacour, laughing; but whilst she laughed she 
went closer to a candle, to read the page which she had opened. 
Belinda and Clarence Hervey followed her. * Really, it is 
somewhat singular, Belinda, that I should have opened upon 
this passage,' continued she, in a low voice, pointing it out to 
Miss Portman. 

It was a description of the manner in which la femme 
comme il y en a peu managed a husband, who was excessively 
afraid of being thought to be governed by his wife. As her 
ladyship turned over the page, she saw a leaf of myrtle which 
Belinda, who had been reading the story the preceding day, 
had put into the book for a mark. 

* Whose mark is this ? Yours, Belinda, I am sure, by its 
elegance,' said Lady Delacour. * So ! this is a concerted plan 

178 



SORTES VIRGILIANAE 

between you two, I see,' continued her ladyship, with an air of 
pique : * you have contrived prettily de me dire des vdrit^s ! 
One says, " Let us try our fate by the Sortes Virgilianae " ; the 
other has dexterously put a mark in the book, to make it open 
upon a lesson for the naughty child.* 

Belinda and Mr. Hervey assured her that they had used no 
such mean arts, that nothing had been concerted between 
them. 

* How came this leaf of myrtle here, then ? ' said Lady 
Delacour. 

* I was reading that story yesterday, and left it as my 
mark.* 

* I cannot help believing you, because you never yet deceived 
me, even in the merest trifle : you are truth itself, Belinda. 
Well, you see that you were the cause of my drawing such an 
extraordinary lot ; the book would not have opened here but 
for your mark. My fate, I find, is in your hands : if Lady 
Delacour is ever to be la femme comme il y en a peu, which is 
the most improbable thing in the world. Miss Portman will be 
the cause of it.' 

'Which is the most probable thing in the world,' said 
Clarence Hervey. *This myrtle has a delightful perfume,' 
added he, rubbing the leaf between his fingers. 

* But, after all,' said Lady Delacour, throwing aside the book, 
* This heroine of Marmontel's is not la femme comme il y en a 
peu, but la femme comme il n'y en 2^ point ? 

* Mrs. Margaret Delacour's carriage, my lady, for Miss 
Delacour,' said a footman to her ladyship. 

* Helena stays with me to-night — my compliments,' said 
Lady Delacour. 

* How pleased the little gipsy looks ! ' added she, turning to 
Helena, who heard the message ; * and how handsome she 
looks when she is pleased ! — Do these auburn locks of yours, 
Helena, curl naturally or artificially ? ' 

* Naturally, mamma.' 

* Naturally ! so much the better : so did mine at your age.' 
Some of the company now took notice of the astonishing 

resemblance between Helena and her mother ; and the more 
Lady Delacour considered her daughter as a part of herself, 
the more she was inclined to be pleased with her. The glass 
globe containing the goldfishes was put in the middle of the 

179 



BELINDA 

table at supper ; and Clarence Hervey never paid her ladyship 
such respectful attention in his life as he did this evening. 

The conversation at supper turned upon a magnificent and 
elegant entertainment which had lately been given by a fashion- 
able duchess, and some of the company spoke in high terms of 
the beauty and accomplishments of her grace's daughter, who 
had for the first time appeared in public on that occasion. 

* The daughter will eclipse, totally eclipse the mother,* said 
Lady Delacour. *That total eclipse has been foretold by 
many knowing people,* said Clarence Hervey ; * but how can 
there be an eclipse between two bodies which never cross one 
another ; and that I understand to be the case between the 
duchess and her daughter.* 

This observation seemed to make a great impression upon 
Lady Delacour. Clarence Hervey went on, and with much 
eloquence expressed his admiration of the mother who had 
stopped short in the career of dissipation to employ her inimit- 
able talents in the education of her children ; who had 
absolutely brought virtue into fashion by the irresistible powers 
of wit and beauty. 

* Really, Clarence,* said Lady Delacour, rising from table, 

* vous parlez avec beaucoup d*onction. I advise you to write a 
sentimental comedy, a comddie larmoyante, or a drama on the 
German model, and call it The School for Mothers, and beg 
her grace of to sit for your heroine.* 

* Your ladyship, surely, would not be so cruel as to send a 
faithful servant a-begging for a heroine?* said Clarence Hervey. 

Lady Delacour smiled at first at the compliment, but a few 
minutes afterwards she sighed bitterly. * It is too late for me 
to think of being a heroine,' said she. 

* Too late ? * cried Hervey, following her eagerly as she 
walked out of the supper-room ; * too late ? Her grace of 
. is some years older than your ladyship.* 

* Well, I did not mean to say too late^ said Lady Delacour ; 

* but let us go on to something else. Why were you not at 
the fite champitre the other day? and where were you all 
this morning ? And pray can you tell me when your friend 
Dr. X returns to town ? * 

* Mr. Horton is getting better,* said Clarence, * and I hope 

that we shall have Dr. X soon amongst us again. I hear 

that he is to be in town in the course of a few days.* 

1 80 



THE EXHIBITION 

* Did he inquire for me ? — Did he ask how I did ? ' 

* No. I fancy he took it for granted that your ladyship was 
quite well ; for I told him you were getting better every day, 
and that you were in charming spirits.' 

*Yes,' said Lady Delacour, *but I wear myself out with 
these charming spirits. I am very nervous still, I assure you, 
and sitting up late is not good for me : so I shall wish you 
and all the world a good night You see I am absolutely a 
reformed rake.* 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE EXHIBITION 

Two hours after her ladyship had retired to her room, as 
Belinda was passing by the door to go to her own bedchamber, 
she heard Lady Delacour call to her. 

< Belinda, you need pot walk so softly ; I am not asleep. 
Come in, will you, my dear ? I have something of consequence 
to say to you. Is all the world gone ? * 

* Yes ; and I thought that you were asleep. I hope you 
are not in pain.' 

* Not just at present, thank you ; but that was a terrible 
embrace of poor little Helena's. You see to what accidents I 
should be continually exposed, if I had that child always about 
me ; and yet she seems of such an affectionate disposition, \ 
that I wish it were possible to keep her at home. Sit down 
by my bedside, my dear Belinda, and I will tell you what I 
have resolved upon.' 

Belinda sat down, and Lady Delacour was silent for some 
minutes. 

* I am resolved,' said she, * to make one desperate effort 
for my life. New plans, new hopes of happiness, have opened 
to my imagination, and, with my hopes of being happy, my 
courage rises. I am determined to submit to the dreadful 
operation which alone can Radically/cure me — you understand ' p 
me ; but it must be kept a profound secret. I know of a /^rdt^^f 
person who could be got to perform this operation with the irVv^-M. [r 
utmost secrecy.' ^.f?f/:J 

. . i8i - ' . t 






N 



\ 



H 



;'^^ BELINDA 

^" 

^ *But, surely,* said Belinda, * safety must be your first object!' 

^'v * No, secrecy is my first object. Nay, do not reason with 

^ me ; it is a subject on which I cannot, will not, reason. Hear 

me — I will keep Helena with me for a few days ; she was 

surprised by what passed in the library this evening — I must 

remove all suspicion from her mind.' 

* There is no suspicion in her mind,' said Belinda. 

* So much the better ; she shall go immediately to school, 
or to Oakly Park. I will then stand my trial for life or 
death ; and if I live I will be, what I have never yet been, a 
mother to Helena. If I die, you and Clarence Hervey will 
take care of her; I know you will. That young man is 
worthy of you, Belinda. If I die, I charge you to tell him 
that I knew his value ; that I had a soul capable of being 
touched by the eloquence of virtue.' Lady Delacour, after a 
pause, said, in an altered tone, ' Do you think, Belinda, that I 
shall survive this operation ? ' 

* The opinion of Dr. X ,' said Belinda, ' must certainly 

be more satisfactory than mine ; ' and she repeated what the 
doctor had left with her in writing upon this subject. * You 

see,' said Belinda, * that Dr. X is by no means certain 

that you have the complaint which you dread.' 

"^ * I am certain of it,' said Lady Delacour, with a deep sigh. 
Then, after a pause, she resumed : * So it is the doctor's 
opinion, that I shall inevitably destroy myself if, from a vain 
hope of secrecy, I put myself into ignorant hands ? These are 
his own words, are they ? Very strong ; and he is prudent 
to leave that opinion in writing. Now, whatever happens, he 
cannot be answerable for " measures which he does not guide" : 
nor you either, my dear ; you have done all that is prudent and 
proper. But I must beg you to recollect, that I am neither a 
child nor a fool ; that I am come to years of discretion, and 
that I am not now in the delirium of a fever ; consequently, 
^0^' ,^^' r there can be no pretence for managing me. In this particular 
^\ t«^ W must insist upon managing myself. I have confidence in 

.j-o^^ ' the skill of the person whom I shall employ : Dr. X , 

. '^ , .^yy very likely, would have none, because the man may not have 
.^;^ ^v>> a diploma for killing or curing in form. That is nothing to 
{ the purpose. It is I that am to undergo the operation : it is 

>'" ' my health, my life that is risked ; and if I am satisfied, that is 

enough. Secrecy, as I told you before, is my first object.' 

182 






V 



>''*'• I 



1 

t 



THE EXHIBITION 

* And cannot you,' said Belinda, * depend with more security 
upon the honour of a surgeon who is at the head of his profes- 
sion, and who has a high reputation at stake, than upon a 
vague promise of secrecy from some obscure quack, who has 
no reputation to lose ? ' 

* No,' said Lady Delacour : * I tell you, my dear, that 1 
cannot depend upon any of these " honourable men." I have 
taken means to satisfy myself on this point : their honour and 
foolish delicacy would not allow them to perform such an [MVf''''^ 
operation for a wife, without the knowledge, privity, consent, . y^^jtl'(^'^ 
etc. etc. etc., of her husband. Now Lord Delacour's knowing ^ 

the thing is quite out of the question.' \rAO\' 

* Why, my dear Lady Delacour, why ? ' said Belinda, with 
gxeat earnestness. * Surely a husband has the strongest 
claim to be consulted upon such an occasion ! Let me entreat 
you to tell Lord Delacour your intention, and then all will be 
right. Say Ves, my dear friend ! let me prevail upon you,' 
said Belinda, taking her ladyship's hand, and pressing it 
between both of hers with the most affectionate eagerness. 

Lady Delacour made no answer, but fixed her eyes upon 
Belinda's. 

* Lord Delacour,' continued Miss Portman, * deserves this 
from you, by the great interest, the increasing interest, that 
he has shown of late about your health: his kindness and 
handsome conduct the other morning certainly pleased you, and 
you have now an opportunity of showing that confidence in 
him, which his affection and constant attachment to you merit.' 

* I trouble myself very little about the constancy of Lord 
Delacour's attachment to me,' said her ladyship coolly, with- 
drawing her hand from Belinda ; * whether his lordship's 
affection for me has of late increased or diminished, is an 
object of perfect indifference to me. But if I were inclined 
to reward him for his late attentions, I should apprehend that 
we might hit upon some better reward than you have pitched 
upon. Unless you imagine that Lord Delacour has a peculiar 
taste for surgical operations, I cannot conceive how his becoming 
my confidant upon this occasion could have an immediate 
tendency to increase his affection for me — about which affection 
I don't care a straw, as you, better than any one else, must 
know ; for I am no hypocrite. I have laid open my whole 
heart to you, Belinda.' 

183 



BELINDA 

* For that very reason,' said Miss Portman, * I am eager 
to use the influence which I know I have in your heart for 
your happiness. I am convinced that it will be absolutely 
impossible that you should carry on this scheme in the house 
with your husband without its being discovered. If he discover 
it by accident, he will feel very differently from what he would 
do if he were trusted by you.' 

*For heaven's sake, my dear,' cried Lady Delacour, Met 
me hear no more about Lord Delacour's feelings.' 

* But allow me then to speak of my own,' said Belinda : * I 
cannot be concerned in this affair, if it is to be concealed from 
your husband.' 

*You will do about that as you think proper,* said Lady 
Delacour haughtily. * Your sense of propriety towards Lord 
Delacour is, I observe, stronger than your sense of honour 
towards me. But I make no doubt that you act upon principle 
— just principle. You promised never to abandon me ; but 
when I most want your assistance, you refuse it, from con- 
sideration for Lord Delacour. A scruple of delicacy absolves 
a person of nice feelings, I find, from a positive promise — a 
new and convenient code of morality ! ' 

Belinda, though much hurt by the sarcastic tone in which 
her ladyship spoke, mildly answered, that the promise she had 
made to stay with her ladyship during her illness was very 
different from an engagement to assist her in such a scheme 
as she had now in contemplation. 

Lady Delacour suddenly drew the curtain between her and 
Belinda, saying, * Well, my dear, at all events, I am glad to 
hear you don't forget your promise of staying with me. You 
are, perhaps, prudent to refuse me your assistance, all circum- 
stances considered. Good-night : I have kept you up too long 
— good-night ! ' 

* Good-night ! ' said Belinda, drawing aside the curtain. 
* You will not be displeased with me, when you reflect coolly.' 

* The light blinds me,' said Lady Delacour ; and she turned 
her face away from Miss Portman, and added, in a drowsy 
voice, * I will think of what has been said some time or other : 
but just now I would rather go to sleep than say or hear any 
more ; for I am more than half asleep already.' 

Belinda closed the curtains and left the room. But Lady 
Delacour, notwithstanding the drowsy tone in which she pro- 

184 



THE EXHIBITION 

nounced these last words, was not in the least inclined to sleep. 
A passion had taken possession of her mind, which kept her 
broad awake the remainder of the night — the passion of 
jealousy. The extreme eagerness with which Belinda had 
urged her to consult Lord Delacour, and to trust him with her 
secret, displeased her ; not merely as an opposition to her will, 
and undue attention to his lordship's feelings, but as * con- 
firmation strong' of a hint which had been dropped by Sir 
Philip Baddely, but which never till now had appeared to her 
worthy of a moment's consideration. Sir Philip had observed, 
that, * if a young lady had any hopes of being a viscountess, it 
was no wonder she thought a baronet beneath her notice.* 
*Now,* thought Lady Delacour, *this is not impossible. In 
the first place, Belinda Portman is niece to Mrs. Stanhope ; 
she may have all her aunt's art, and the still greater art to 
conceal it under the i)iask of openness and simplicity : Volto 
scioliOj pensteri strettiy is the grand maxim of the Stanhope 
school.' The moment Lady Delacour's mind turned to 
suspicion, her ingenuity rapidly supplied her with circum- 
stances and arguments to confirm and justify her doubts. 

* Miss Portman fears that my husband is growing too fond 
of me : she says, he has been very attentive to me of late. 
Yes, so he has ; and on purpose to disgust him with me, she 
immediately urges me to tell him that I have a loathsome 
disease, and that I am about to undergo a horrid operation. 
How my eyes have been blinded by her artifice ! This last 
stroke was rather too bold, and has opened them effectually, 
and now I see a thousand things that escaped me before. 
Even to-night, the Sortes Virgilianae, the myrtle leaf, Miss 
Portman's mark, left in the book exactly at the place where 
Marmontel gives a receipt for managing a husband of Lord 
Delacour's character. AJi, ah ! By her own confession, she 
had been reading this : studying it. Yes, and she has studied 
it to some purpose; she has made that poor weak lord of 
mine think her an angel. How he ran on in her praise the 
other day, when he honoured me with a morning visit 1 That 
morning visit, too, was of her suggestion ; and the banknotes, 
as he, like a simpleton, let out in the course of the conversa- 
tion, had been offered to her first. She, with a delicacy that 
charmed my short-sighted folly, begged that they might go 
through my hands. How artfully managed ! Mrs. Stanhope 

185 



BELINDA 

herself could not have done better. So, she can make Lord 
Delacour do whatever she pleases ; and she condescends to 
make him behave prettily to me, and desires him to bring me 
peace-ofFerings of banknotes ! She is, in fact, become my 
banker ; mistress of my house, my husband, and myself ! Ten 
days I have been confined to my room. Truly, she has made 
a good use of her time : and I, fool that I am, have been 
thanking her for all her disinterested kindness 1 

* Then her attention to my daughter ! disinterested, too, as 
I thought ! — But, good heavens, what an idiot I have been I 
She looks forward to be the step-mother of Helena ; she would 
win the simple child's affections even before my face, and show 
Lord Delacour what a charming wife and mother she would 
make ! He said some such thing to me, as well as I remember, 
the other day. Then her extreme prudence ! She never 
coquets, not she, with any of the young men who come here 
on purpose to see her. Is this natural ? Absolutely unnatural 
— artifice ! artifice ! To contrast herself with me in Lord 
Delacour*s opinion is certainly her object. Even to Clarence 
Hervey, with whom she was, or pretended to be, smitten, how 
cold and reserved she is grown of late ; and how haughtily 
she rejected my advice, when I hinted that she was not taking 
the way to win him ! I could not comprehend her ; she had 
no designs on Clarence Hervey, she assured me. Immaculate 
purity ! I believe you. 

* Then her refusal of Sir Philip Baddely ! — a baronet with 
fifteen thousand a year to be refused by a girl who has nothing, 
and merely because he is a fool 1 How could I be such a fool 
as to believe it ? Worthy niece of Mrs. Stanhope, I know you 
now ! And now I recollect that extraordinary letter of Mrs. 
Stanhope's which I snatched out of Miss Portman's hands 
some months ago, full of blanks, and inuendoes, and references 
to some letter which Belinda had written about my disputes 
with my husband ! From that moment to this, Miss Portman 
has never let me see another of her aunt's letters. So I may 
conclude they are all in the same style ; and I make no doubt 
that she has instructed her niece, all this time, how to proceed. 
Now I know why she always puts Mrs. Stanhope's letters into 
her pocket the moment she receives them, and never opens 
them in my presence. And I have been laying open my whole 
heart, telling my whole history, confessing all .my faults and 

i86 



THE EXHIBITION 

follies, to this girl I And I have told her that 1 am dying ! 
1 have taught her to look forward with joy and certainty to the 
coronet, on which she has fixed her heart. 

* On my knees I conjured her to stay with me to receive 
my last breath. O dupe, miserable dupe, that I am ! could 
nothing warn me ? In the moment that I discovered the 
treachery of one friend, I went and prostrated myself to the 
artifices of another — of another a thousand times more danger- 
ous — ten thousand times more beloved ! For what was 
Harriot Freke in comparison with Belinda Portman ? Harriot 
Freke, even whilst she diverted me most, I half despised. 
But Belinda ! — O Belinda I how entirely have I loved — 
trusted — admired — adored — respected — revered you ! ' 

Exhausted by the emotions to which she had worked her- 
self up by the force of her powerful imagination, Lady Delacour, 
after passing several restless hours in bed, fell asleep late in 
the morning ; and when she awaked, Belinda was standing by 
her bedside. * What could you be dreaming of ? ' said Belinda, 
smiling. *You started, and looked at me with such horror, 
when you opened your eyes, as if I had been your evil genius.' 

It is not in human nature, thought Lady Delacour, suddenly 
overcome by the sweet smile and friendly tone of Belinda, it is 
not in human nature to be so treacherous ; and she stretched 
out both her arms to Belinda, saying, * You my evil genius ? 
No. My guardian angel, my dearest Belinda, kiss me, and 
forgive me.' 

* Forgive you for what ? ' said Belinda ; * I believe you are 
dreaming still, and I am sorry to awaken you ; but I am come 
to tell you a wonderful thing — that Lord Delacour is up, and 
dressed, and actually in the breakfast-room ; and that he has 
been talking to me this half hour— of what do you think ? — of 
Helena. He was quite surprised, he said, to see her grown 
such a fine girl, and he declares that he no longer regrets that 
she was not a boy ; and he says that he will dine at home to- 
day, on purpose to drink Helena's health in his new burgundy ; 
and, in short, I never saw him in such good spirits, or so 
agreeable : I always thought he was one of the best-natured 
men I had ever seen. Will not you get up to breakfast ? 
Lord Delacour has asked for you ten times within these five 
minutes.' 

* Indeed ! ' said Lady Delacour, rubbing her eyes. * All 

187 



BELINDA 

this is vastly wonderful ; but I wish you had not awakened me 
so soon.' 

* Nay, nay,' said Belinda, * I know by the tone of your 
voice that you do not mean what you say ; I know you will 
get up, and come down to us directly — so I will send Marriott.' 

Lady Delacour got up, and went down to breakfast, in 
much uncertainty what to think of Miss Portman ; but ashamed 
to let her into her mind, and still more afraid that Lord Dela- 
cour should suspect her of doing him the honour to be jealous. 
Belinda had not the least guess of what was really passing in 
her ladyship's heart ; she implicitly believed her expressions of 
complete indifference to her lord ; and jealousy was the last 
feeling which Miss Portman would have attributed to Lady 
Delacour, because she unfortunately was not sufficiently aware 
that jealousy can exist without love. The idea of Lord Dela- 
cour as an object of attachment, or of a coronet as an object 
of ambition, or of her friend's death as an object of joy, were 
so foreign to Belinda's innocent mind, that it was scarcely 
possible she could decipher Lady Delacour's thoughts. Her 
ladyship affected to be in * remarkable good spirits this morning,' 
declared that she had never felt so well since her illness, 
ordered her carriage as soon as breakfast was over, and said 
she would take Helena to Maillardet's, to see the wonders of 
his little conjuror and his singing-bird. * Nothing equal to 
Maillardet's singing-bird has ever been seen or heard of, my 
dear Helena, since the days of Aboulcasem's peacock in the 
Persian Tales. Since Lady Anne Percival has not shown you 
these charming things, I must.' 

* But I hope you won't tire yourself, mamma,' said the little 
girl. 

* I'm afraid you will,' said Belinda. * And you know, my 
dear,' added Lord Delacour, * that Miss Portman, who is so 
very obliging and good-natured, could go just as well with 
Helena ; and I am sure, would^ rather than that you should 
tire yourself, or give yourself an unnecessary trouble.' 

*Miss Portman is very good,' answered Lady Delacour 
hastily; *but I think it no unnecessary trouble to give my 
daughter any pleasure in my power. As to its tiring me, I am 
neither dead, nor dying, yet; for the rest, Miss Portman, who 
understands what is proper, blushes for you, as you see, my 
lord, when you propose that she, who is not yet a married 

1 88 



THE EXHIBITION 

woman, should chaperon a young lady. It is quite out of rule ; 
and Mrs. Stanhope would be shocked if her niece could, or 
would, do such a thing to oblige anybody.' 

Lord Delacour was too much in the habit of hearing sar- 
castic, and to him incomprehensible speeches from her lady- 
ship, to take any extraordinary notice of this ; and if Belinda 
blushed, it was merely from the confusion into which she was 
thrown by the piercing glance of Lady Delacour's black eyes 
— 2i glance which neither guilt nor innocence could withstand. 
Belinda imagined that her ladyship still retained some dis- 
pleasure from the conversation that had passed the preceding 
night, and the first time that she was alone with Lady Dela- 
cour, she again touched upon the subject, in hopes of softening 
or convincing her. * At all events, my dear friend,' said she, 
* you will not, I hope, be offended by the sincerity with which 
I speak — I can have no object but your safety and happiness.' 

* Sincerity never offends me,' was her ladyship's cold answer. 
And all the time that they were out together, she was unusually 
ceremonious to Miss Portman ; and there would have been but 
little conversation, if Helena had not been present, to whom 
her mother talked with fluent gaiety. When they got to 
Spring Gardens, Helena exclaimed, * Oh ! there's Lady Anne 
Percival's carriage, and Charles and Edward with her — they 
are going to the same place that we are, I daresay, for I heard 
Charles ask Lady Anne to take him to see Maillardet's little 
bird — Mr. Hervey mentioned it to us, and he said it was a 
curious piece of machinery.' 

* I wish you had told me sooner that Lady Anne was likely 
to be there — I don't wish to meet her so awkwardly : I am 
not well enough yet, indeed, to go to these odious, hot, close 
places ; and, besides, I hate seeing sights.' 

Helena, with much good humour, said that she would rather 
give up seeing the sight than be troublesome to her mother. 
When they came to Maillardet's, however. Lady Delacour saw 

Mrs. getting out of her carriage, and to her she consigned 

Helena and Miss Portman, saying that she would take a turn 
or two in the park, and call for them in half an hour. When 
the half hour was over, and her ladyship returned, she carelessly 
asked, as they were going home, whether they had been pleased 
with their visit to the bird and the conjuror. *Oh yes, 
mamma ! ' said Helena : ^ and do you know that one of the 

189 



BELINDA 

questions that the people ask the conjuror is, " Where is the 
happiest family to be found f ^^ And Charles and Edward im- 
mediately said, if he is a good conjuror, if he tells truth, he'll 
answer, " At Oakly Park?^ ' 

* Miss Portman, had you any conversation with Lady Anne 
Percival ? * said Lady Delacour coldly. 

< A great deal,' said Belinda, ' and such as I am sure you 
would have liked : and so far from being a ceremonious person, 
I think I never saw anybody who had such easy engaging 
manners.' 

* And did she ask you, Helena, again to go with her to that 
place where the happiest family in the world is to be found ? ' 

* Oakly Park ? — No, mamma ; she said that she was very 
glad that I was with you ; but she asked Miss Portman to come 
to see her whenever it was in her power.' 

* And could Miss Portman withstand such a temptation ? ' 
*You know that I am engaged to your ladyship,' said 

Belinda. 

Lady Delacour bowed. * But from what passed last night,' 
said she, ^ I was afraid that you might repent your engagement 
to me : and if so, I give up my bond. I should be miserable 
if I apprehended that any one, but more especially Miss Port- 
man, felt herself a prisoner in my house.' 

Dear Lady Delacour ! I do not feel myself a prisoner ; I 
have always till now felt myself a friend in your house ; but 
we'll talk of this another time. Do not look at me with so 
much coldness ; do not speak to me with so much politeness. 
I will not let you forget that I am your friend.' 

* I do not wish to forget it, Belinda,' said Lady Delacour, 
with emotion ; < I am not ungrateful, though I may seem 
capricious — bear with me.' 

* There now, you look like yourself again, and I am satisfied,' 
cried Belinda. * As to going to Oakly Park, I give you my 
word I have not the most distant thoughts of it. I stay with 
you from choice, and not from compulsion, believe me.' 

* I do believe you,' said Lady Delacour ; and for a moment 
she was convinced that Belinda stayed with her for her own 
sake alone ; but the next minute she suspected that Lord 
Delacour was the secret cause of her refusing to go to Oakly 
Park. His lordship dined at home this day, and two or three 
succeeding days, and he was not intoxicated from Monday till 

190 



THE EXHIBITION 

Thursday. These circumstances appeared to his lady very 
extraordinary. In fact, he was pleased and aniused with his 
little daughter, Helena; and whilst she was yet almost a 
stranger to him, he wished to appear to her in the most agree- 
able and respectable light possible. One day after dinner. 
Lord Delacour, who was in a remarkably good humour, said 
to her ladyship, * My dear, you know that your new carriage 
was broken almost to pieces the night when you were over- 
turned. Well, I have had it all set to rights again, and new 
painted, and it is all complete, except the hammer-cloth, which 
must have new fringe. What colour will you have the fringe?' 

* What do you say. Miss Portman ? * said her ladyship. 

< Black and orange would look well, I think,' said Belinda, 
* and would suit the lace of vour liveries — would not it ? ' 

* Certainly : black and orange then,* said Lord Delacour, 
' it shall be.' 

* If you ask my opinion,* said Lady Delacour, * I am for 
blue and white, to match the cloth of the liveries.' 

' Blue and white then it shall be,' said Lord Delacour. 

* Nay, Miss Portman has a better taste than I have ; and 
she says black and orange, my lord.' 

* Then you'll have it black and orange, will you ? ' said Lord 
Delacour. 

*Just as you please,' said Lady Delacour, and no more 
passed. 

Soon afterward a note came from Lady Anne Percival, with 
some trifles belonging to Helena, for which her mother had 
sent. The note was for Belinda — another pressing invitation 
to Oakly Park — and a very civil message from Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour, and thanks to Lady Delacour for the macaw. Ay, 
thought Lady Delacour, Miss Portman wants to ingratiate her- 
self in time with all my husband's relations. * Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour should have addressed these thanks to you. Miss 
Portman, for I had not the grace to think of sending her the 
macaw.' Lord Delacour, who was very fond of his aunt, im- 
mediately joined his thanks, and observed that Miss Portman 
was always considerate — always obliging — always kind. Then 
he drank her health in a bumper of burgundy, and insisted 
upon his little Helena's drinking her health. * I am sure you 
ought, my dear, for Miss Portman is very good — too good to 
you, child. 

191 



BELINDA 

' Very good — not too good, I hope,' said Lady Delacour. 
* Miss Portman, your health.' 

*And I hope,' continued his lordship, after swallowing his 
bumper, * that my Lady Anne Percival does not mean to in- 
veigle you away from us, Miss Portman. You don't think of 
leaving us. Miss Portman, I hope? Here's Helena would 
break her little heart ; — I say nothing for my Lady Delacour, 
because she can say everything so much better for herself; 
and I say nothing for myself, because I am the worst man in 
the world at making speeches, when I really have a thing at 
heart — as I have your staying with us. Miss Portman.' 

Belinda assured him that there was no occasion to press her 
to do what was perfectly agreeable to her, and said that she 
had no thoughts of leaving Lady Delacour. Her ladyship, 
with some embarrassment, expressed herself * extremely obliged, 
and gratified, and happy.' Helena, with artless joy, threw her 
arms about Belinda, and exclaimed, ' I am glad you are not 
going ; for I never liked anybody so much, of whom I knew so 
little.' 

* The more you know of Miss Portman the more you will 
like her, child — at least I have found it so,' said Lord Delacour. 

* Clarence Hervey would, I am sure, have given the Pigot 
diamond, if it were in his gift, for such a smile as you bestowed 
on Lord Delacour just now,' whispered Lady Delacour. For 
an instant Belinda was struck with the tone of pique and re- 
proach in which her ladyship spoke. *Nay, my dear, I did 
not mean to make you blush so piteously,' pursued her lady- 
ship : * I really did not think it a blushing matter — but you 
know best. Believe me, I spoke without malice ; we are so 
apt to judge from our own feelings — and I could as soon 
blush about the old man of the mountains as about my Lord 
Delacour.' 

* Lord Delacour ! ' said Belinda, with a look of such un- 
feigned surprise, that her ladyship instantly changed counte- 
nance, and, taking her hand with gaiety, said, * So, my little 
Belinda, I have caught you — the blush belongs then to Clarence 
Hervey ? Well, any man of common sense would rather have 
one blush than a thousand smiles for his share : now we under- 
stand one another. And will you go with me to the exhibition 
to-morrow ? I am told there are some charming pictures this 
year. Helena, who really has a genius for drawing, should see 

192 



THE EXHIBITION 

these things ; and whilst she ts with me, I will make her as 
happy as possible. You see the refonnation is beginning— > 
Clarence Hervey and Miss Portman can do wonders. If it be 
my fate, at last, to be /a donne mh^^ or la fimme comme il y 
en a fieu^ how can I help it ? There is no struggling against 
fate, my dear ! * 

Whenever Lady Delacour's suspicions of Belinda were sus- 
pended, all her affections returned with double force ; she 
wondered at her own folly, she was ashamed that she could 
have let such ideas enter her mind, and she was beyond 
measure astonished that anything relative to Lord Delacour 
could so far have interested her attention. * Luckily,' said she 
to herself, ^ he has not the penetration of a blind beetle ; and, 
besides, he has little snug jealousies of his own : so he will 
never find me out. It would be an excellent thing indeed, if 
he were to turn my ^^ master- torment** against myself — it 
would be a judgment upon me. The manes of poor Lawless 
would then be appeased. But it is impossible I should ever be 
a jealous wife : I am only a jealous friend, and I must satisfy 
myself about Belinda. To be a second time a dupe to the 
treachery of a friend would be too much for me — too much for 
my pride — too much for my heart.' 

The next day, when they came to the exhibition, Lady 
Delacour had an opportunity of judging of Belinda's real feel- 
ings. As they went up the stairs, they heard the voices of Sir 
Philip Baddely and Mr. Rochfort, who were standing upon the 
landing-place, leaning over the banisters, and running their 
little sticks along the iron rails, to try which could make the 
loudest noise. < Have you been much pleased with the pictures, 
gentlemen ? ' said Lady Delacour, as she passed them. 

*Oh, damme! no — ^'tis a cursed bore; and yet there are some 
fine pictures : one in particular — hey, Rochfort ? — one damned 
fine picture!' said Sir Philip. And the two gentlemen, laughing 
significantly, followed Lady Delacour and Belinda into the rooms. 

*Ay, there's one picture that's worth all the rest, 'pon 
honour ! ' repeated Rochfort ; * and we'll leave it to your lady- 
ship's and Miss Portman's taste and judgment to find it out, 
mayn't we, Sir Philip ? ' 

< Oh, damme ! yes,' said Sir Philip, ' by all means.' But 
he was so impatient to direct her eyes, that he could not keep 
himself still an instant. 

O 193 



BELINDA 

* Oh, curse it ! Rochfort, we'd better tell the ladies at once, 
else they may be all day looking and looking ! ' 

* Nay, Sir Philip, may not I be allowed to guess ? Must I 
be told which is your fine picture ? — This is not much in favour 
of my taste.' 

* Oh, damn it ! your ladyship has the best taste in the world, 
everybody knows ; and so has Miss Portman — and this picture 
will hit her taste particularly, Pm sure. It is Clarence Herve/s 
fancy ; but this is a dead secret — dead — Clary no more thinks 
that we know it, than the man in the moon.' 

* Clarence Herve/s fancy ! Then I make no doubt of its 
being good for something,' said Lady Delacour, * if the painter 
have done justice to his imagination ; for Clarence has really a 
fine imagination.' 

* Oh, damme ! 'tis not amongst the history pieces,' cried Sir 
Philip ; * 'tis a portrait.' 

* And a history piece, too, 'pon honour ! ' said Rochfort : * a 
family history piece, I take it, 'pon honour 1 it will turn out,' said 
Rochfort ; and both the gentlemen were, or affected to be, thrown 
into convulsions of laughter, as they repeated the words, * family 
history piece, 'pon honour ! — family history piece, damme ! ' 

*P11 take my oath as to the portrait's being a devilish 
good likeness,' added Sir Philip ; and as he spoke, he turned 
to Miss Portman : * Miss Portman has it ! damme, Miss Port- 
man has him ! ' 

Belinda hastily withdrew her eyes from the picture at which 
she was looking. ^ A most beautiful creature ! ' exclaimed Lady 
Delacour. 

* Oh, faith ! yes ; I always do Clary the justice to say, he 
has a damned good taste for beauty.' 

*But this seems to be foreign beauty,' continued Lady 
Delacour, *if one may judge by her air, her dress, and the 
scenery about her — cocoa trees, plantains : Miss Portman, what 
think you ? ' 

* I think,' said Belinda (but her voice faltered so much that 
she could hardly speak), 'that it is a scene from Paul and 
Virginia. I think the figure is St. Pierre's Virginia.' 

* Virginia St. Pierre ! ma'am,' cried Mr. Rochfort, winking 
at Sir Philip. * No, no, damme ! there you are wrong, Roch- 
fort ; say Herve/s Virginia, and then you have it, damme ! or, 
maybe, Virginia Hervey — who knows ? ' 

194 



THE EXHIBITION 

* This is a portrait/ whispered the baronet to Lady Dela- 
cour, *of Clarence's mistress.' Whilst her ladyship leant 
her ear to this whisper, which was sufficiently audible, she fixed 
a seemingly careless, but most observing, inquisitive eye upon 
poor Belinda. Her confiision, for she heard the whisper, was 
excessive. 

* She loves Clarence Hervey — she has no thoughts of Lord 
Delacour and his coronet ; I have done her injustice,' thought 
Lady Delacour, and instantly she despatched Sir Philip out 
of the room for a catalogue of the pictures, begged Mr. Roch- 
fort to get her something else, and, drawing Miss Portman's 
arm within hers, she said, in a low voice, * Lean upon me, 
my dearest Belinda : depend upon it, Clarence will never be 
such a fool as to marry the girl — Virginia Hervey she will 
never be ! ' 

*And what will become of her? can Mr. Hervey desert 
her ? she looks like innocence itself — and so young, too ! Can 
he leave her for ever to sorrow, and vice, and infamy?' 
thought Belinda, as she kept her eyes fixed, in silent anguish, 
upon the picture of Virginia. * No, he cannot do this : if he 
could he would be unworthy of me, and I ouj^A^ to think of him 
no more. No ; he will marry her ; and I mus^ think of him 
no more.' 

She turned abruptly away from the picture, and she saw 
Clarence Hervey standing beside her. 

*What do you think of this picture? is it not beautiful? 
We are quite enchanted with it ; but you do not seem to be 
struck with it, as we were at the first glance,' said Lady 
Delacour. 

* Because,' answered Clarence gaily, *it is not the first 
glance I have had at that picture — I admired it yesterday, and 
admire it to-day.' 

* But you are tired of admiring it, I see. Well, we shall 
not force you to be in raptures with it — shall we, Miss Port- 
man ? A man may be tired of the most beautiful face in the 
world, or the most beautiful picture ; but really there is so 
much sweetness, so much innocence, such tender melancholy 
in this countenance, that, if I were a man, I should inevitably 
be in love with it, and in love for ever I Such beauty, if it 
were in nature, would certainly fix the most inconstant man 
upon earth.' 

195 



Slu lunad abmflly awa^/rvK 



THE EXHIBITION 

Belinda ventured to take her eyes for an instant from the 
picture, to see whether Clarence Hervey looked like the most 
inconstant man upon earth. He was intently gazing upon her ; 
but as soon as she looked round, he suddenly exclaimed, as he 
turned to the picture — * A heavenly countenance, indeed ! — the 
painter has done justice to the poet.' 

* Poet ! ' repeated Lady Delacour : * the man*s in the 
clouds 1 ' 

* Pardon me,' said Clarence ; * does not M. de St. Pierre 
deserve to be called a poet ? Though he does not write in 
rhyme, surely he has a poetical imagination.' 

* Certainly,' said Belinda; and from the composure with 
which Mr. Hervey now spoke, she was suddenly inclined to 
believe, or to hope, that all Sir Philip's story was false. * M. 
de St. Pierre undoubtedly has a great deal of imagination, and 
deserves to be called a poet.' 

* Very likely, good people ! ' said Lady Delacour ; * but what 
has that to do with the present purpose ? ' 

* Nay,' cried Clarence, * your ladyship certainly sees that this 
is St. Pierre's Virginia ? ' 

* St. Pierre's Virginia I Oh, I know who it is, Clarence, as 
well as you do. I am not quite so blind, or so stupid, as you 
take me to be.' Then recollecting her promise, not to betray 
Sir Philip's secret, she added, pointing to the landscape of the 
picture, * These cocoa trees, this fountain, and the words Fon- 
taine de Virginie^ inscribed on the rock — I must have been 
stupidity itself, if I had not found it out I absolutely can read, 
Clarence, and spell, and put together. But here comes Sir 
Philip Baddely, who, I believe, cannot read, for I sent him an 
hour ago for a catalogue, and he pores over the book as if he 
had not yet made out the title.' 

Sir Philip had purposely delayed, because he was afraid of 
rejoining Lady Delacour whilst Clarence Hervey was with her, 
and whilst they were talking of the picture of Virginia. 

* Here's the catalogue; here's the picture your ladyship 
wants. St. Pierre's Virginia : damme ! I never heard of that 
fellow before— he is some new painter, damme 1 that is the 
reason I did not know the hand. Not a word of what I told 
you. Lady Delacour — you won't blow us to Clary,' added he 
aside to her ladyship. *Rochfort keeps aloof; and so will I, 
damme !' 

197 



BELINDA 

A gentleman at this instant beckoned to Mr. Hervey with 
an air of great eagerness. Clarence went and spoke to him, 
then returned with an altered countenance, and apologised to 
Lady Delacour for not dining with her, as he had promised. 
Business, he said, of great importance required that he should 
leave town immediately. Helena had just taken Miss Portman 
into a little room, where WestalPs drawings were hung, to 
show her a group of Lady Anne Percival and her children ; 
and Belinda was alone with the little girl, when Mr. Hervey 
came to bid her adieu. He was in much agitation. 

< Miss Portman, I shall not, I am afraid, see you again for 
some time ; — perhaps I may never have that — ^hem ! — ^happi- 
ness. I had something of importance that I wished to say to 
you before I left town ; but I am forced to go so suddenly, I 
can hardly hope for any moment but the present to speak to 
you, madam. May I ask whether you purpose remaining 
much longer with Lady Delacour?' 

* Yes,' said Belinda, much surprised. * I believe — I am not 
quite certain — but I believe I shall stay with her ladyship some 
time longer.' 

Mr. Hervey looked painfully embarrassed, and his eyes in- 
voluntarily fell upon little Helena. Helena drew her hand gently 
away from Belinda, left the room, and retired to her mother. 

* That child, Miss Portman, is very fond of you,' said Mr. 
Hervey. Again he paused, and looked round to see whether 
he could be overheard. * Pardon me for what I am going to 
say. This is not a proper place. I must be abrupt ; for I am 
so circumstanced, that I have not a moment's time to spare. 
May I speak to you with the sincerity of a friend ? ' 

* Yes. Speak to me with sincerity,' said Belinda, * and you 
will deserve that I should think you my friend.' She trembled 
excessively, but spoke and looked with all the firmness that she 
could command. 

* I have heard a report,' said Mr. Hervey, * which is most 
injurious to you.' 

< To me ! ' 

* Yes. No one can escape calumny. It is whispered, that 
if Lady Delacour should die 

At the word dicy Belinda started. 

*That if Lady Delacour should die. Miss Portman would 
become the mother of Helena ! ' 

198 



THE EXHIBITION 

' Good Heavens ! what an absurd report ! Surely ^(»/ could 
not for an instant believe it, Mr. Hervey ? ' 

< Not for an instant. But I resolved, as soon as I heard it, 
to mention it to you ; for I believe that half the miseries of the 
world arise from foolish mysteries — from the want of courage 
to speak the truth. Now tliat you are upon your guard, your 
own prudence will defend you sufficiently. I never saw any 
of your sex who appeared to me to have so much prudence, 
and so little art ; but — ^farewell — I have not a moment to lose,' 
added Clarence, suddenly checking himself; and he hurried 
away from Belinda, who stood fixed to the spot where he left 
her, till she was roused by the voices of several people who 
came into the room to see the drawings. She started as if 
from a dream, and went immediately in search of Lady 
Delacour. 

Sir Philip Baddely was in earnest conversation with her 
ladyship ; but he stopped speaking when Belinda came within 
hearing, and Lady Delacour turned to Helena, and said ' My 
dear, if you are satisfied, for mercy's sake let us be gone, for 
I am absolutely overcome with heat — and with curiosity,' 
added she in a low voice to Belinda : ' I long to hear how 
Clarence Hervey likes Westall's drawings.* 

As soon as they got home. Lady Delacour sent her daughter 
to practise a new lesson upon the pianoforte. * And now sit 
down, my dear Belinda,' said she, 'and satisfy my curiosity. 
It is the curiosity of a friend, not of an impertinent busybody. 
Has Clarence declared himself? He chose an odd time and 
place ; but that is no matter ; I forgive him, and so do you, I 
daresay. But why do you tear that unfortunate carnation to 
pieces? Surely you cannot be embarrassed in speaking to 
me I What's the matter ? I once did tell you, that I would 
not give up my claim to Clarence's adorations during my life ; 
but I intend to live a few years longer after the amazonian 
operation is performed, you know ; and I could not have the 
conscience to keep you waiting whole years. It is better to 
do things with a good grace, lest one should be forced at last 
to do them with an ill grace. Therefore I give up all manner 
of claim to everything but — flattery I that of course you will 
allow me from poor Clarence. So now, do not begin upon 
another flower ; but, without any farther superfluous modesty, 
let me hear all the pretty things Clarence said or swore.' 

199 



BELINDA 

Whilst Belinda was pulling the carnation to pieces, she 
recollected what Mr. Hervey had said to her about mysteries : 
his words still sounded in her ear. < / believe that half the 
miseries of the world arise from foolish mysteries — from the 
want of courage to speak the truthJ I will have the courage 
to speak the truth, thought she, whatever it may cost me. 

* The only pretty thing that Mr. Hervey said was, that he 
never saw any woman who had so much prudence and so little 
art,' said Belinda. 

* A very pretty thing indeed, my dear ! But it might have 
been said in open court by your grandfather, or your great- 
grandfather. I am sorry, if that was all, that Helena did not 
stay to hear such a charming moral compliment — Morality d la 
glace. The last thing I should have expected in a tite-ct^tite 
with Clarence Hervey. Was it worth while to pull that poor 
flower to pieces for such a pretty speech as this ? And so that 
was all ? ' 

* No, not all : but you overpower me with your wit ; and I 
cannot stand the " lightning of your eyes." ' 

* There ! * said her ladyship, letting down her veil over her 
face, * the fire of my eyes is not too much for you now.' 

* Helena was showing me WestalPs drawing of Lady Anne 
Percival and her children * 

* And Mr. Hervey wished that he was the father of such a 
charming group of children, and you the mother — hey? was 
not that it ? It was not put in such plain terms, but that was 
the purport, I presume ? ' 

* No, not at all ; he said nothing about Lady Anne PercivaPs 
children, but — * 

*But — why then did you bring in her ladyship and her 
children ? To gain time ? — Bad policy ! — Never, whilst you 
live, when you have a story to tell, bring in a parcel of people 
who have nothing to do with the beginning, the middle, or the 
end of it. How could I suspect you of such false taste ! I 
really imagined these children were essential to the business ; 
but I beg pardon for giving you these elements of criticism. 
I assure you I interrupt you, and talk on so fast, from pure 
good nature, to give you time to recollect yourself; for I know 
youVe the worst of memories, especially for what Clarence 
Hervey says. But come, my dear, dash into the middle of 
things at once, in the true Epic style.' 

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THE EXHIBITION 

< Then to dash into the midst of things at once,' said Miss 
Portman, speaking very quick: *Mr. Hervey observed that 
Miss Delacour was growing very fond of me.' 

* Miss Delacour, did you say ? ' cried her ladyship : * Et 
puis f ' 

At this instant Champfort opened the door, looked in, and 
seeing Lady Delacour, immediately retired. 

* Champfort, whom do you want — or what do you want ? ' 
said her ladyship. 

* Miladi, c'est que — I did come from milord, to see if miladi 
and mademoiselle were visible. I did tink miladi was not at 
home.' 

< You see I am at home, though,' said her ladyship. * Has 
Lord Delacour any business with me ? ' 

* No, miladi : not with miladi, said Champfort ; * it was with 
mademoiselle.' 

' With me, Monsieur Champfort ? then you will be so good 
as to tell Lord Delacour I am here.' 

* And that / am not here, Champfort ; for I must be gone 
to dress.' 

She rose hastily to leave the room, but Miss Portman caught 
her hand : * You won't go, I hope. Lady Delacoiu*,' said she, 

* till I have finished my long story ? ' Lady Delacour sat down 
again, ashamed of her own embarrassment. 

Whether this be art, innocence, or assurance, thought she, I 
cannot tell ; but we shall see. 

Lord Delacour now came in, with a half-unfolded newspaper, 
and a packet of letters in his hand. He came to apologise to 
Miss Portman for having, by mistake, broken the seal of a letter 
to her, which had been sent under cover to him. He had simply 
asked Champfort whether the ladies were at home, that he 
might not have the trouble of going upstairs if they were out. 
Monsieur Champfort possessed, in an eminent degree, the 
mischievous art of appearing mysterious about the simplest 
things in the world. 

* Though I was so thoughtless as to break the seal before I 
looked at the direction of the letter,' said Lord Delacour, 

* I assure you I went no farther than the first three words ; 
for I knew " my dear niece " could not possibly mean me.' He 
gave Miss Portman the letter, and left the room. This explana- 
tion was perfectly satisfactory to Belinda ; but Lady Delacour, 

201 



BELINDA 

prejudiced by the hesitation of Champfort, could not help sus- 
pecting that this letter was merely the ostensible cause of his 
lordship's visit 

< From my aunt Stanhope/ said Miss Portman, as she opened 
her letter. She folded it up again after glancing over the first 
page, and put it into her pocket, colouring deeply. 

All Lady Delacour's suspicions about Mrs. Stanhope's 
epistolary counsels and secrets instantly recurred, with almost 
the force of conviction to her mind. 

^ Miss Portman,' said she, ' I hope your politeness to me 
does not prevent you from reading your letter ? Some cere- 
monious people think it vastly rude to read a letter in com- 
pany ; but I am not one of them : I can write whilst you read, 
for I have fifty notes and more to answer. So pray read your 
letter at your ease.* 

Belinda had but just unfolded her letter again, when Lord 
Delacour returned, followed by Champfort, who brought with 
him a splendid hanmier-cloth. 

* Here, my dear Lady Delacour,' said his lordship, * is a little 
surprise for you : here is a new hammer-cloth, of my bespeaking 
and taste, which I hope you will approve of.' 

* Very handsome, upon my word I ' said Lady Delacour 
coldly, and she fixed her eyes upon the fringe, which was black 
and orange : * Miss Portman's taste, I see I ' 

' Did you not say black and orange fringe, my dear ? ' 

* No. I said blue and white, my lord.' 

His lordship declared he did not know how the mistake had 
happened ; it was merely a mistake : — but her ladyship was 
convinced that it was done on purpose. And she said to her- 
self, * Miss Portman will order my liveries next ! I have not 
even the shadow of power left in my own house ! I am not 
treated with even a decent show of respect I But this shall go 
on till I have full conviction of her views.' 

Dissembling her displeasure, she praised the hammer-cloth, 
and especially the fringe. Lord Delacour retired satisfied ; and 
Miss Portman sat down to read the following letter from her 
aunt Stanhope. 



202 



JEALOUSY 



CHAPTER XV 

JEALOUSY 

< Crescent, Bath, 
*July — Wednesday, 

*My dear Niece — I received safely the bank-notes for 
my two hundred guineas, enclosed in your last. But you 
should never trust unnecessarily in this manner to the post — 
always when you are obliged to send bank-notes by post, cut 
them in two, and send half by one post and half by another. 
This is what is done by all prudent people. Prudence, whether 
in trifles or in matters of consequence, can be learned only by 
experience (which is often too dearly bought), or by listening, 
which costs nothing, to the suggestions of those who have a 
thorough knowledge of the world. 

* A report has just reached me concerning you and a certain 
lord^ which gives me the most heartfelt concern. I always 
knew, and told you, that you were a great favourite with the 
person in question. I depended on your prudence, delicacy, 
and principles, to understand this hint properly, and I trusted 
,that you would conduct yourself accordingly. It is too plain, 
(from the report alluded to), that there has been some miscon- 
duct or mismanagement somewhere. The misconduct I cannot 
— the mismanagement I must, attribute to you, my dear ; for 
let a man's admiration for any woman be ever so great, unless 
she suffer herself to be dazzled by vanity, or unless she be 
naturally of an inconsiderate temper, she can surely prevent 
his partiality from becoming so glaring as to excite envy : 
envy is always to be dreaded by handsome young women, as 
being, sooner or later, infallibly followed by scandal. Of this, 
I fear, you have not been sufficiently aware, and you see the 
consequences — consequences which, to a female of genuine 
delicacy or of real good sense, must be extremely alarming. 
Men of contracted minds and cold tempers, who are absolutely 
incapable of feeling generous passion for our sex, are often un- 
accountably ambitious to gain the reputation of being well with 
any woman whose beauty, accomplishments, or connections, 

203 



BELINDA 

may have brought her into fashion. Whatever affection may 
be pretended, this is frequently the ultimate and sole object of 
these selfish creatures. Whether or not the person I have in 
my eye deserves to be included in this class, I will not presume 
positively to determine ; but you, who have personal oppor- 
tunities of observation, may decide this point (if you have any 
curiosity on the subject) by observing whether he most affects 
to pay his devoirs to you in public or in private. If the latter 
be the case, it is the most dangerous ; because a man even of 
the most contracted understanding has always sense or instinct 
enough to feel that the slightest taint in the reputation of the 
woman who is, or who is to be, his wife, would affect his own 
private peace, or his honour in the eyes of the world. A 
husband who has in a first marriage been, as it is said, in con- 
stant fear both of matrimonial* subjugation and disgrace, would, 
in his choice of a second lady, be peculiarly nice, and probably 
tardy. Any degree of favour that might have been shown him, 
any report that may have been raised, and above all, any 
restraint he might feel himself under from implied engagement, 
or from the discovery or reputation of superior understanding 
and talents in the object beloved, would operate infallibly 
against her, to the confusion of all her plans, and the ruin at 
once of her reputation, her peace of mind, and her hopes of an 
establishment. Nay, supposing the best that could possibly 
happen — that, after playing with the utmost dexterity this 
desperate game, the pool were absolutely your own ; yet if there 
were any suspicions of unfair play buzzed about amongst the 
bystanders, you would not in the main be a gainer ; for my 
dear, without character, what is even wealth, or all that wealth 
can bestow ? I do not mean to trouble you with stale wise 
sayings, which young people hate ; nor musty morality, which 
is seldom fit for use in the world, or which smells too much of 
books to be brought into good company. This is not my way 
of giving advice ; but I only beg you to observe what actually 
passes before your eyes in the circle in which we live. Ladies 
of the best families, with rank and fortune, and beauty and 
fashion, and everything in their favour, cannot (as yet in this 
country) dispense with the strictest observance of the rules of 
virtue and decorum. Some have fancied themselves raised so 
high above the vulgar as to be in no danger from the thunder 
and lightning of public opinion ; but these ladies in the clouds 

204 



JEALOUSY 

have found themselves mistaken — they have been blasted, and 

have fallen nobody knows where I What is become of Lady , 

and the Countess of , and others I could mention, who were 

as high as envy could look ? I remember seeing the Countess 

of f who was then the most beautiful creature my eyes ever 

beheld, and the most admired that ever was heard of, come into 
the Opera-house, and sit the whole night in her box without any 
woman's speaking or courtesying to her, or taking any more 
notice of her than you would of a post, or a beggar-woman. 
Even a coronet cannot protect a woman, you see, from disgrace : 
if she falls, she and it, and all together, are trampled under 
foot. But why should I address all this to my dear niece ? 
Whither have the terror and confusion I was thrown into by 

this strange report about you and Lord led me ? And yet one 

cannot be too cautious — " Ce n'est que le premier mo^ qui coute " 
— Scandal never stops after the first word, unless she be 
instantly gagged by a dexterous hand. Nothing shall be 
wanting on my part, but you alone are the person who can do 
anything effectual. Do not imagine that I would have you 

quit Lady ; that is the first idea, I know, that will come 

into your silly little head, but put it out directly. If you were 
upon this attack to quit the field of battle, you yield the 

victory to your enemies. To leave Lady 's house would 

be folly and madness. As long as she is your friend, or appears 
such, all is safe ; but any coolness on her part would, in the 
present circumstances, be death to your reputation. And, 
even if you were to leave her on the best terms possible, the 
malicious world would say that you left her on the worst, and 
would assign as a reason the report alluded to. People who 
have not yet believed it would then conclude that it must be 
true ; and thus by your cowardice you would furnish an in- 
controvertible argument against your innocence. I therefore 
desire that you will not, upon any account, think of coming 
home to me at present ; indeed, I hope your own good sense 
would prevent you from wishing it, after the reasons that I have 

given. Far from quitting Lady from false delicacy, it is 

your business, from consideration for her peace as well as your 
own, to redouble your attentions to her in private, and, above 
all things, to appear as much as possible with her in public. 
I am glad to hear her health is so far re-established that she 
can appear again in public ; her spirits, as you may hint, will 

205 



BELINDA 

be the better for a little amusement. Luckily, you have it 
completely in your power to convince her and all the world of 
the correctness of your mind. I believe I certainly should 
have fainted, my dear, when I first heard this shocking report, 
if I had not just afterward received a letter from Sir Philip 
Baddely which revived me. His proposal at this crisis for 
you, my dear, is a charming thing. You have nothing to do 
but to encourage his addresses immediately, — the report dies 
away of itself, and all is just as your best friends wish. Such 
an establishment for you, my dear, is indeed beyond their most 
sanguine expectations. Sir Philip hints in his letter that my 
influence might be wanting with you in his favour ; but this 
surely cannot be. As I have told him, he has merely mistaken 
becoming female reserve for a want of sensibility on your part, 
which would be equally unnatural and absurd. Do you know, 
my dear, that Sir Philip Baddely has an estate of fifteen 
thousand a-year in Wiltshire ? and his uncle Barton's estate in 
Norfolk will, in due time, pay his debts. Then, as to family — 
look in the lists of baronets in your pocket-book ; and surely, 
my love, an old baronetage in actual possession is v/orth 
something more than the reversion of a new coronet ; supposing 
that such a thing could properly be thought of, which Heaven 
forbid I So I see no possible objection to Sir Philip, my 
dear Belinda ! and I am sure you have too much candour and 
good sense to make any childish or romantic difficulties. Sir 
Philip is not, I know, a man of what you call genius. So much 
the better, my dear — those men of genius are dangerous 
husbands ; they have so many oddities and eccentricities, there 
is no managing them, though they are mighty pleasant men in 
company to enliven conversation ; for example, your favourite, 
Clarence Hervey. As it is well known he is not a marrying 
man, you never can have thought of him. You are not a girl to 
expose yourself to the ridicule, etc., of all your female acquaint- 
ance by romance and nonsense. I cannot conceive that a niece 
of mine could degrade herself by a mean prepossession for a 
man who has never made any declaration of his attachment to 
her, and who, I am sure, feels no such attachment. That 
you may not deceive yourself, it is fit I should tell you, what 
otherwise it might not be so proper to mention to a young lady, 
that he keeps, and has kept, a mistress for some years ; and 
those who are most intimately in his confidence have assured 

206 



JEALOUSY 

me that, if ever he marries anybody, he will marry this girl ; 
which is not impossible, considering that she is, they say, the 
most beautiful young creature that ever was seen, and he a man 
of genius. If you have any sense or spirit, I have said enough. 
So adieu ! — Let me hear, by return of the post, that everything 
is going on as it should do. I am impatient to write to your 
sister Tollemache this good news. I always foretold that my 
Belinda would marry better than her sister, or any of her 
cousins, and take place of them all. Are not you obliged to me 

for sending you this winter to town to Lady ? It was an 

admirable hit. Pray tell Lady Delacour, with my best com- 
pliments, that our aloe friend (her ladyship will understand me) 
cheated a gentleman of my acquaintance the other day, at 
casino, out of seventy guineas. He hates the sight of her 
odious red wig as much now as we always did. I knew, and 

told Lady D , as she will do me the justice to remember, 

that Mrs. cheated at play. What a contemptible 

character ! — Pray, my dear, do not forget to tell Lady Delacour, 
that I have a charming anecdote for her, about another friend 
of ours, who has lately gone over to the enemy. Has her 
ladyship seen a manuscript that is handed about as a great 

secret, and said to be by , a parallel between our friend 

and the Chevalier d'Eon? It is done with infinite wit and 
humour, in the manner of Plutarch. I would send a copy, but 
am afraid my frank would be too heavy if I began upon another 
sheet. So once more adieu, my dear niece ! Write to me 
without fail, and mention Sir Philip. I have written to him to 
give my approbation, etc — Yours sincerely, 

« Selina Stanhope.' 

* Mrs. Stanhope seems to have written you a volume instead 
of a letter, Miss Portman,* cried Lady Delacour, as Belinda 
turned over the sheets of her aunt's long epistle. She did not 
attempt to read it regularly through : some passages here and 
there were sufficient to astonish and shock her extremely. * No 
bad news, I hope ? ' said Lady Delacour, again looking up 
from her writing at Belinda, who sat motionless, leaning her 
head upon her hand, as if deep in thought, Mrs. Stanhope's 
unfolded letter hanging from her hand. In the midst of the 
variety of embarrassing, painful, and alarming feelings excited ^ 
by this letter, she had sufficient strength of mind to adhere to ' 

207 



BELINDA 

her resolution of speaking the exact truth to Lady Delacour. 
When she was roused by her ladyship's question, * No bad 
news, I hope, Miss Portman ? ' she instantly answered, with 
all the firmness she could command. *Yes, My aunt has 
been alarmed by a strange report which I heard myself for the 
first time this morning from Mr. Hervey. I am sure I am 
much obliged to him for having the courage to speak the 
truth to me.* 

Here she repeated what Mr. Hervey had said to her. 

Lady Delacour never raised her eyes whilst Belinda spoke, 
but went on scratching out some words in what she was writing. 
Through the mask of paint which she wore no change of colour 
could be visible ; and as Belinda did not see the expression of 
her ladyship's eyes, she could not in the least judge of what 
was passing in her mind. 

* Mr. Hervey has acted like a man of honour and sense,' 
said Lady Delacour ; * but it is a pity, for your sake, he did 
not speak sooner — before this report became so public — before 
it reached Bath, and your aunt. Though it could not surprise 
her much, she has such a perfect knowledge of the world, 
and ' 

Lady Delacour uttered these broken sentences in a voice of 
suppressed anger ; cleared her throat several times, and at last, 
unable to speak, stopped short, and then began with much 
precipitation to put wafers into several notes that she had been 
writing. So it has reached Bath, thought she — the report is 
public ! I never till now heard a hint of any such thing except 
from Sir Philip Baddely ; but it has doubtless been the common 
talk of the town, and I am laughed at as a dupe and an idiot, 
as I am. And now, when the thing can be concealed no longer, 
she comes to me with that face of simplicity, and, knowing my 
generous temper, throws herself on my mercy, and trusts that 
her speaking to me with this audacious plainness will convince 
me of her innocence. * You have acted in the most prudent 
manner possible. Miss Portman,' said her ladyship, as she 
went on sealing her notes, * by speaking at once to me of this 
strange, scandalous, absurd report. Do you act from your 
aunt Stanhope's advice, or entirely from your own judgment 
and knowledge of my character ? ' 

* From my own judgment and knowledge of your character, 
in which I hope — I am not — I cannot be mistaken,' said 

208 



JEALOUSY 

Belinda, looking at her with a mixture of doubt and astonish* 
ment 

< No — you calculated admirably — ^*twas the best, the only 
thing you could do. Only,' said her ladyship, falling back in 
her chair with a hysteric laugh, * only the blunder of Champ- 
fort, and the entrance of my Lord Delacour, and the hammer- 
cloth with the orange and black fringe — forgive me, my dear ; 
for the soul of me I can't help laughing — it was rather imlucky ; 
so awkward, such a contretemps 1 But you,' added she, wiping 
her eyes, as if recovering from laughter, *you have such 
admirable presence of mind, nothing disconcerts you ! You 
are equal to all situations, and stand in no need of such long 
letters of advice from your aunt Stanhope,' pointing to the two 
folio sheet3 which lay at Belinda's feet 

The rapid, unconnected manner in which Lady Delacour, 
spoke, the hurry of her motions, the quick, suspicious, angry 
glances of her eye, her laugh, her intelligible words, all 
conspired at this moment to give Belinda the idea that her 
intellects were suddenly disordered. She was so firmly per- 
suaded of her ladyship's utter indifference to Lord Delacour, 
that she never conceived the possibility of her being actuated 
by the passion of jealousy — ^by the jealousy of power — a species 
oiF jealousy which she had never felt, and could not comprehend. 
But she had sometimes seen Lady Delacour in starts of passion 
that seemed to border on insanity^ and the idea of her losing 
all command of her reason now struck Belinda with irresist- 
ible force. She felt the necessity of preserving her own 
composure ; and with all the calmness that she could assume, 
she took up her aunt Stanhope's letter, and looked for the 
passage in which Mrs. Luttridge and Harriot Freke were 
mentioned. If I can turn the course of Lady Delacour's 
mind, thought she, or catch her attention, perhaps she will 
recover herself. * Here is a message to you, my dear Lady 
Delacour,' cried she, * firom my aunt Stanhope, about — about 
Mrs. Luttridge.' 

Miss Portman's hand trembled, as she turned over the 
pages of the letter. * I am all attention,' said Lady Delacour, 
with a c jmposed voice ; ' only take care, don't make a 
mistake : I'm in no hurry : don't read anything Mrs. Stanhope 
might not wish. It is dangerous to garble letters, almost as 
dangerous as to snatch them out of a friend's hand, as I once 

P 209 



r 



BELINDA 

did, you know — but you need not now be under the least 
alarm.* 

Conscious that this letter was not fit for her ladyship to s^e, 
Belinda neither offered to show it to her, nor attempted any 
apology for her reserve and embarrassment, but hastily began to 
read the message relative to Mrs. Luttridge ; her voice gaining 
confidence as she went on, as she observed that she had fixed 
Lady Delacour's attention, who now sat listening to her, calm 
and motionless. But when Miss Portman came to the words, 

* Do not forget to tell Lady D , that I have a charming 

anecdote for her about another ^V«^ of hers, who lately went 
over to the enemy,* her ladyship exclaimed with great 
vehemence, ^Friend! — Harriot Freke 1 — Yes, like all other 
friends — Harriot Freke ! — What was she compared to ? 'Tis 
too much for me — too much ? ' and she put her hand to her 
head. 

* Compose yourself, my dear/nVw^,* said Belinda, in a calm, 
gentle tone ; and she went toward her with an intention of 
soothing her by caresses ; but, at her approach. Lady Delacour 

• pushed the table on which she had been writing from her with 
violence, started up, flung back the veil which fell over her face 
as she rose, and darted upon Belinda a look, which fixed her to 
the spot where she stood. It said, * Come not a step nearer, at 
your peril ! ' Belinda's blood ran cold — she had no longer any 
doubt that this was insanity. She shut the penknife which lay 
upon the table, and put it into her pocket. 

* Cowardly creature ! * cried Lady Delacour, and her counte- 
nance changed to the expression of ineffable contempt ; * what 
is it you fear ? ' 

* That you should injure yourself. Sit down — for Heaven's 
sake listen to me, to your friend, to Belinda ! * 

* My friend ! my Belinda \ ' cried Lady Delacour, and she 
turned from her, and walked away some steps in silence ; then 
suddenly clasping her hands, she raised her eyes to heaven 
with a fervent but wild expression of devotion, and exclaimed, 

* Great God of Heaven, my punishment is just ! the death of 
^ Lawless is avenged. May the present agony of my soul 

expiate my folly I Of guilt — deliberate guilt — of hypocrisy 
— treachery — I have not — oh, never may I have — to repent 1 * 
She paused — her eyes involuntarily returned upon Belinda. 

* O Belinda I You, whom I have so loved — so trusted ! * 

2IO 



JEALOUSY 

The tears rolled fast down her painted cheeks ; she wiped 
them hastily away, and so roughly, that her face became a 
strange and ghastly spectacle. Unconscious of her disordered 
appearance, she rushed past Belinda, who vainly attempted to 
stop her, threw up the sash, and stretching herself far out of 
the window, gasped for breath. Miss Portman drew her back, 
and closed the window, saying, * The rouge is all off your face, 
my dear Lady Delacour; you are not fit to be seen. Sit 
down upon this sofa, and I will ring for Marriott, and get some 
fresh rouge. Look at your face in this glass — you see ' 

* I see,* interrupted Lady Delacour, looking full at Belinda, 
'that she who I thought had the noblest of souls has the 
meanest I I see that she is incapable of feeling. Rouge I not 

fit to be seen I — At such a time as this, to talk to me in this 
manner I O niece of Mrs. Stanhope ! — dupe ! — dupe that I 
am ! * She flung herself upon the sofa, and struck her forehead 
with her hand violently several times. Belinda, catching her 
arm, and holding it with all her force, cried in a tone of 
authority, * Conmiand yourself, Lady Delacour, I conjure you, 
or you will go out of your senses ; and if you do, your secret 
will be discovered by the whole world.' 

* Hold me not — you have no right,' cried Lady Delacour, 
struggling to free her hand. * All-powerful as you are in this 
house, you have no longer any power over me 1 I am not 
going out of my senses 1 You cannot get me into Bedlam, 
all-powerful, all-artful as you are. You have done enough to 
drive me mad — but I am not mad. No wonder you cannot 
believe me — no wonder you are astonished at the strong 
expression of feelings that are foreign to your nature — no 
wonder that you mistake the writhings of the heart, the agony 
of a generous soul, for madness I Look not so terrified ; I 
will do you no injury. Do not you hear that I can lower my 
voice ?— do not you see that I can be calm ? Could Mrs. 
Stanhope herself — could you^^ Miss Portman, speak in a softer, 
milder, more polite, more proper tone than I do now? Are 
you pleased, are you satisfied ? ' 

* I am better satisfied — a little better satisfied,' said Belinda. 

* That's well ; but still you tremble. There's not the least 
occasion for apprehension — ^you see I can command myself, and 
smile upon you.' 

< Oh, do not smile in that horrid manner ! ' 

211 



BELINDA 

* Why not ? — Horrid ! — Don*t you love deceit ? ' 

* I detest it from my soul.' 

< Indeed 1 ' said Lady Delacour, still speaking in the same 
low, soft, unnatural voice : * then why do you practise it, my 
love ? * 

* I never practised it for a moment — I am incapable of 
deceit. When you are really calm, when you can really 
command yourself, you will do me justice, Lady Delacour ; 
but now it is my business, if I can, to bear with you.' 

<You are goodness itself, and gentleness, and prudence 
personified. You know perfectly how to manage a friend, 
whom you fear you have driven just to the verge of madness. 
But tell me, good, gentle, prudent Miss Portman, why need 
you dread so much that I should go mad? You know, if I 
• went mad, nobody would mind, nobody would believe whatever 
I say — I should be no evidence against you, and I should be 
out of your way sufficiently, shouldn't I ? And you would have 
all the power in your own hands, would not you ? And would 
not this be almost as well as if I were dead and buried ? No ; 
your calculations are better than mine. The poor mad wife 
would still be in your way, would yet stand between you and 
the fond object of your secret soul — a coronet ! ' 

As she pronounced the word coronet^ she pointed to a 
coronet set in diamonds on her watch-case, which lay on the 
table. Then suddenly seizing the watch, she dashed it upon 
the marble hearth with all her force — * Vile bauble ! ' cried 
she ; * must I lose my only friend for such a thing as you ? 

Belinda ! do you see that a coronet cannot confer 
happiness ? ' 

* I have seen it long : I pity you from the bottom of my 
soul,' said Belinda, bursting into tears. 

*Pity me not. I cannot endure your pity, treacherous 
woman ! ' cried Lady Delacour, and she stamped with a look 
of rage — * most perfidious of women 1 ' 

*Yes, call me perfidious, treacherous — stamp at me — say, 
do what you will ; I can and will bear it all — all patiently ; for 

1 am innocent, and you are mistaken and imhappy,' said 
Belinda. * You will love me when you return to your senses ; 
then how can I be angry with you ? ' 

* Fondle me not,' said Lady Delacour, starting back from 
Belinda's caresses ; * do not degrade yourself to no purpose — I 

212 



'> 'i 5 



BELINDA 

never more can be your dupe. Your protestations of innocence 
are wasted on me — I am not so blind as you imagine — dupe as 
you think me, I have seen much in silence. The whole world, 
you find, suspects you now. To save your reputation, you want 
my friendship — you want * 

* I want nothing from you. Lady Delacour,* said Belinda. 
* You have suspected me long in silence / then I have mistaken 
your character — I can love you no longer. Farewell for ever ! 
Find another — a better friend.' 

She walked away from Lady Delacour with proud indigna- 
tion ; but, before she reached the door, she recollected her 
promise to remain with this unfortunate woman. 

Is a dying woman, in the paroxysm of insane passion, a fit 
Ni object of indignation ? thought Belinda, and she stopped short. 

, „ , * No, Lady Delacour,' cried she, * I will not yield to my 
humour — I will not listen to my pride. A few words said in 
the heat of passion shall not make me forget myself or you. 
You have given me your confidence ; I am grateful for it. I 
cannot, will not desert you : my promise is sacred.' 

* Your promise ! ' said Lady Delacour, contemptuously. * I 
absolve you from your promise. Unless you find it convenient 
to yourself to remember it, pray let it be forgotten ; and if I 
must die ' 

At this instant the door opened suddenly, and little Helena 
came in singing — 

* Merrily, merrily shall we live now, 
^' ' Under the blossom that hangs on the bough. 

What comes next. Miss Portman ? ' 

Lady Delacour dragged her veil across her face, and rushed 
out of the room. 

* What is the matter ? — Is mamma ill ? ' 
"^ * Yes, my dear,' said Belinda. But at this instant she heard 

the sound of Lord Delacour's voice upon the stairs ; she broke 
from the little girl, and with the greatest precipitation retreated 
to her own room. 

She had not been alone above an hour before Marriott 
knocked at the door. 

* Miss Portman, you don't know how late it is. Lady 
Singleton and the Miss Singletons are come. But, merciftil 
Heaven ! ' exclaimed Marriott, as she entered the room, * what 
is all this packing up ? What is this trunk ? ' 

214 



\ ' • 






h, 



JEALOUSY 

* I am going to Oakly Park with Lady Anne Percival,* said 
Belinda, calmly. 

* I thought there was something wrong ; my mind misgave 
me all the time I was dressing my lady, — she was in such a 
flutter, and never spoke to me. I'd lay my life this is, some 
way or other, Mr. Champforf s doings. But, good dear Miss 
Portman, can you leave my poor lady when she wants you so 
much ; and I'll take upon me to say, ma'am, loves you so much 
at the bottom of her heart ? Dear me, how your face is flushed ! 
Pray let me pack up these things, if it must be. But I do hope, 
if it be possible, that you should stay. However, I've no busi- 
ness to speak. I beg pardon for being so impertinent : I hope 
you won't take it ill, — it is only from regard to my poor lady I 
ventured to speak.' 

* Your regard to your lady deserves the highest approbation, 
Marriott,' said Belinda. Mt is impossible that I should stay 
with her any longer. When I am gone, good Marriott, and 
when her health and strength decline, your fidelity and your 
services will be absolutely necessary to your mistress ; and 
from what I have seen of the goodness of your heart, I am 
convinced that the more she is in want of you, the more re^ 
spectful will be your attention.' 

Marriott answered only by her tears, and went on packing 
up in a great hurry. 

Nothing could equal Lady Delacour^s astonishment when 
she learnt from Marriott that Miss Portman was actually pre- 
paring to leave the house. After a moment's reflection, however, 
she persuaded herself that this was only a new artifice to work 
upon her affections ; that Belinda did not mean to leave her ; 
but that she would venture all lengths, in hopes of being at the 
last moment pressed to stay. Under this persuasion. Lady 
Delacour resolved to disappoint her expectations : she deter- 
mined to meet her with that polite coldness which would best 
become her own dignity, and which, without infringing the 
laws of hospitality, would effectually point out to the world that 
Lady Delacour was no dupe, and that Miss Portman was an 
unwelcome inmate in her house. 

The power of assuming gaiety when her heart was a prey to 
the most poignant feelings, she had completely acquired by 
long practice. With the promptitude of an actress, she could 
instantly appear upon the stage, and support a character totally 

215 



BELINDA 

foreign to her own. The loud knocks at the door, which 
announced the arrival of company, were signals that operated 
punctually upon her associations ; and to this species of con- 
ventional necessity her most violent passions submitted with 
magical celerity. Fresh rouged, and beautifully dressed, she 
was performing her part to a brilliant audience in her drawing- 
room when Belinda entered. Belinda beheld her with much 
astonishment, but more pity. 

* Miss Portman,' said her ladyship, turning carelessly towards 
her, * where do you buy your rouge ? — Lady Singleton, would 
you rather at this moment be mistress of the philosopher's stone, 
or have a patent for rouge that will come and go like Miss 
Portman's ? — Apropos ! have you read St. Leon ? ' Her lady- 
ship was running on to a fresh train of ideas, when a footman 
announced the arrival of Lady Anne PercivaPs carriage ; and 
Miss Portman rose to depart. 

* You dine with Lady Anne, Miss Portman, I understand ? — 
My compliments to her ladyship, and my duty to Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour, and her macaw. Au revoir / Though you talk of 
running away from me to Oakly Park, I am sure you will do no 
such cruel thing. I am, with all due humility, so confident of 
the irresistible attractions of this house, that I defy Oakly Park 
and all its charms. So, Miss Portman, instead of adieu, I shall 
only say, au revoir / * 

< Adieu, Lady Delacour ! ' said Belinda, with a look and 
tone which struck her ladyship to the heart. All her suspicions, 
all her pride, all her affected gaiety vanished ; her presence of 
mind forsook her, and for some moments she stood motionless 
and powerless. Then recollecting herself, she fiew after Miss 
Portman, abruptly stopped her at the head of the stairs, and 
exclaimed, * My dearest Belinda, are you gone ? — My best, my 
only friend 1 — Say you are not gone for ever I — Say you will 
return ! * 

* Adieu ! * repeated Belinda. It was all she could say ; she 
broke from Lady Delacour, and hurried out of the house with 
the strongest feeling of compassion for this unhappy woman, 
but with an unaltered sense of the propriety and necessity of 
her own firmness. 



2l6 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 



CHAPTER XVI 

DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

There was an air of benevolence and perfect sincerity in the 
politeness with which Lady Anne Percival received Belinda, 
that was peculiarly agreeable to her agitated and harassed 
mind. 

< You see, Lady Anne,' said Belinda, * that I come to you at 
last, after having so often refused your kind invitations.' 

< So you surrender yourself at discretion, just when I was 
going to raise the siege in despair,' said Lady Anne : ' now I 
may make my own terms ; and the only terms I shall impose 
are, that you will stay at Oakly Park with us, as long as we can 
make it agreeable to you, and no longer. Whether those who 
cease to please, or those who cease to be pleased, are most to 
blame, 1 it may sometimes be difficult to determine ; so difficult, 
that when this becomes a question between two friends, they 
perhaps had better part than venture upon the discussion.' 

Lady Anne Percival could not avoid suspecting that some- 
thing disagreeable had passed between Lady Delacour and 
Belinda ; but she was not troubled with the disease of idle 
curiosity, and her example prevailed upon Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour, who dined with her, to refrain from all questions and 
comments. 

The prejudice which this lady had conceived against our 
heroine, as being a niece of Mrs. Stanhope's, had lately been 
vanquished by the favourable representations of her conduct 
which she had heard from her nephew, and by the kindness 
that Belinda had shown to little Helena. 

< Madam,' said Mrs. Delacour, addressing herself to Miss 
Portman with some formality, but much dignity, * permit me, 
as one of my Lord Delacour's nearest relations now living, to 
return you my thanks for having, as my nephew informs me, 
exerted your influence over Lady Delacour for the happiness of 
his family. My little Helena, I am sure, feels her obligations 
towards you, and I rejoice that I have had an opportunity of 

^ Marmontel. 
217 



BELINDA 

expressing, in person, my sense of what our family owes to 
Miss Portman. As to the rest, her own heart will reward her. 
The praise of the world is but an inferior consideration. How- 
ever, it deserves to be mentioned, as an instance of the world's 
candour, and for the singularity of the case, that everybody 
agrees in speaking well even of so handsome a young lady as 
Miss Portman.* 

*She must have had extraordinary prudence,' said Lady 
Anne ; * and the world does justly to reward it with extra- 
ordinary esteem.' 

Belinda, with equal pleasure and surprise, observed that all 
this was said sincerely, and that the report, which she had 
feared was public, had never reached Mrs. Delacour or Lady 
Anne Percival. 

In fact, it was known and believed only by those who had 
been prejudiced by the malice or folly of Sir Philip Baddely. 
Piqued by the manner in which his addresses had been received 
by Belinda, he readily listened to the comfortable words of his 
valet de chambre^ who assured him that he had it from the 
best possible authority (Lord Delacour's own gentleman, Mr. 
Champfort), that his lordship was deeply taken with Miss 
Portman — that the young lady managed everything in the 
house — that she had been very prudent, to be sure, and had 
refused large presents — but that there was no doubt of her 
becoming Lady Delacour, if ever his lordship should be at 
liberty. Sir Philip was the person who mentioned this to 
Clarence Hervey, and Sir Philip was the person who hinted 
it to Mrs. Stanhope, in the very letter which he wrote to im- 
plore her influence in favour of his own proposal. This 
manoeuvring lady represented this report as being universally 
known and believed, in hopes of frightening her niece into an 
immediate match with the baronet. In the whole extent of 
Mrs. Stanhope's politic imagination, she had never foreseen 
the possibility of her niece's speaking the simple truth to Lady 
Delacour, and she had never guarded against this danger. 
She never thought of Belinda's mentioning this report to her 
ladyship, because she would never have dealt so openly, had 
she been in the place of her niece. Thus her art and falsehood 
operated against her own views, and produced consequences 
diametrically opposite to her expectations. It was her ex- 
aggerations that made Lady Delacour believe, when Belinda 

218 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

repeated what she had said, that this report was universally 
known and credited ; her own suspicions were by these means 
again awakened, and her jealousy and rage were raised to such 
a pitch, that, no longer mistress of herself, she insulted her 
friend and guest Miss Portman was then obliged to do the 
very thing that Mrs. Stanhope most dreaded — to leave Lady 
Delacour's house and all its advantages. As to Sir Philip 
Baddely, Belinda never thought of him from the moment she 
read her aunt's letter, till after she had left her ladyship ; her 
mind was firmly decided upon this subject ; yet she could not 
help fearing that her aunt would not understand her reasons, 
or approve her conduct. She wrote to Mrs. Stanhope in the 
most kind and respectful manner ; assured her that there had 
been no foundation whatever for the report which had produced 
so much uneasiness ; that Lord Delacour had always treated 
her with politeness and good nature, but that such thoughts or 
views as had been attributed to him, she was convinced had 
never entered his lordship's mind ; that hearing of the publicity 

of this report had, however, much affected Lady D . * I 

have, therefore,' said Belinda, < thought it prudent to quit her 
ladyship, and to accept of an invitation from Lady Anne 
Percival to Oakly Park. I hope, my dear aunt, that you will 
not be displeased by my leaving town without seeing Sir Philip 
Baddely again. Our meeting could indeed answer no purpose, 
as it is entirely out of my power to return his partiality. Of 
his character, temper, and manners, I know enough to be 
convinced, that our imion could tend only to make us both 
miserable. After what I have seen, nothing can ever tempt 
me to marry from any of the common views of interest or 
ambition.' 

On this subject Belinda, though she declared her own 
sentiments with firm sincerity, touched as slightly as she 
could, because she anxiously wished to avoid all appearance 
of braving the opinions of an aunt to whom she was under 
obligations. She was tempted to pass over in silence all that 
part of Mrs. Stanhope's letter which related to Clarence 
Hervey; but upon reflection, she determined to conquer her 
repugnance to speak of him, and to make perfect sincerity the 
steady rule of her conduct. She therefore acknowledged to 
her aunt, that of all the persons she had hitherto seen, this 
gentleman was the most agreeable to her; but at the same 

219 



BELINDA 

time she assured her, that the refusal of Sir Philip Baddely 
was totally independent of all thoughts of Mr. Hervey — that, 
before she had received her aunt's letter, circumstances had 
convinced her that Mr. Hervey was attached to another 
woman. She concluded by saying, that she had neither 
romantic hopes nor wishes, and that her affections were at 
her own command. 

Belinda received the following angry answer from Mrs. 
Stanhope ; — 

* Henceforward, Belinda, you may manage your own affairs 
as you think proper; I shall never more interfere with my 
advice. Refuse whom you please — go where you please — get 
what friends, and what admirers, and what establishment you 
can — I have nothing more to do with it — I will never more 
undertake the management of young people. There's your 
sister ToUemache has made a pretty return for all my kind- 
ness 1 she is going to be parted from her husband, and basely 
throws all the blame upon me. But 'tis the same with all of 
you. There's your cousin Joddrell refused me a hundred 
guineas last week, though the pianoforte and harp I bought 
for her before she was married stood me in double that sum, 
and are now useless lumber on my hands ; and she never could 
have had Joddrell without them, as she knows as well as I do. 
As for Mrs. Levit, she never writes to me, and takes no 
manner of notice of me. But this is no matter, for her notice 
can be of no consequence now to anybody. Levit has run out 
everything he had in the world I — All his fine estates advertised 
in to-day's paper — an execution in the house, I'm told. I 
expect that she will have the assurance to come to me in her 
distress: but she shall find my doors shut, I promise her. 
Your cousin Valleton's match has, through her own folly, 
turned out like all the rest. She, her husband, and all his 
relations are at daggers-drawing ; and Valleton will die soon, 
and won't leave her a farthing in his will, I foresee, and all 
the fine Valleton estate goes to God knows whom ! 

* If she had taken my advice after marriage as before, it 
would have been all her own at this instant. But the passions 
run away with people, and they forget everything — common 
sense, gratitude, and all — as you do, Belinda. Clarence 
Hervey will never think of you, and I give you up ! — Now 

220 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

manage for yourself as you please, and as you can ! Til have 
nothing more to do with the affairs of young ladies who will 
take no advice. Selina Stanhope. 

*P.S, — If you return directly to Lady Delacour's, and 
marry Sir Philip Baddely, I will forgive the past' 

The regret which Belinda felt at having grievously offended 
her aunt was somewhat alleviated by the reflection that she 
had acted with integrity and prudence. Thrown off her guard 
by anger, Mrs. Stanhope had inadvertently furnished her niece 
with the best possible reasons against following her advice with 
regard to Sir Philip Baddely, by stating that her sister and 
cousins, who had married with mercenary views, had made 
themselves miserable, and had shown their aunt neither grati- 
tude nor respect. 

The tranquillity of Belinda's mind was gradually restored by 
the society that she enjoyed at Oakly Park. She found herself 
in the midst of a large and cheerful family, with whose domestic 
happiness she could not forbear to sympathise. There was an 
affectionate confidence, an unconstrained gaiety in this house, 
which forcibly struck her, from its contrast with what she had 
seen at Lady Delacour's. She perceived that between Mr. 
Percival and Lady Anne there was a union of interests, occupa- 
tions, taste, and affection. She was at first astonished by the 
openness with which they talked of their affairs in her presence ; 
that there were no family secrets, nor any of those petty 
mysteries which arise from a discordance of temper or struggle 
for power. In conversation, every person expressed without 
constraint their wishes and opinions ; and wherever these 
differed, reason and the general good were the standards to 
which they appealed. The elder and younger part of the 
family were not separated from each other ; even the youngest 
child in the house seemed to form part of the society, to have 
some share and interest in the general occupations or amuse- 
ments. The children were treated neither as slaves nor as 
playthings, but as reasonable creatures ; and the ease with 
which they were managed, and with which they managed 
themselves, surprised Belinda ; for she heard none of that 
continual lecturing which goes forward in some houses, to the 
great fatigue and misery of all the parties concerned, and of 
all the spectators. Without force or any factitious excite- 

221 



BELINDA 

ments, the taste for knowledge, and the habits of application, 
were induced by example, and confirmed by sympathy. Mr. 
Percival was a man of science and literature, and his daily 
pursuits and general conversation were in the happiest manner 
instructive and interesting to his family. His knowledge of 
the world, and his natural gaiety of disposition, rendered his 
conversation not only useful, but in the highest degree amusing. 
From the merest trifles he could lead to some scientific fact, 
some happy literary allusion, or philosophical investigation. 

Lady Anne Percival had, without any pedantry or ostenta- 
tion, much accurate knowledge, and a taste for literature, 
which made her the chosen companion of her husband's 
understanding, as well as of his heart. He was not obliged 
to reserve his conversation for friends of his own sex, nor was 
he forced to seclude himself in the pursuit of any branch of 
knowledge ; the partner of his warmest affections was also the 
partner of his most serious occupations ; and her sympathy 
and approbation, and the daily sense of her success in the 
education of their children, inspired him with a degree of 
happy social energy, unknown to the selfish solitary votaries of 
avarice and ambition. 

In this large and happy family there was a variety of 
pursuits. One of the boys was fond of chemistry, another of 
gardening ; one of the daughters had a talent for painting, 
another for music ; and all their acquirements and accomplish- 
ments contributed to increase their mutual happiness, for there 
was no envy or jealousy amongst them. 

Those who unfortunately have never enjoyed domestic 
happiness, such as we have just described, will perhaps 
suppose the picture to be visionary and romantic ; there are 
others — it is hoped many others — who will feel that it is 
drawn from truth and real life. Tastes that have been vitiated 
by the stimulus of dissipation might, perhaps, think these 
simple pleasures insipid. 

Everybody must ultimately judge of what makes them 
happy, from the comparison of their own feelings in different 
situations. Belinda was convinced by this comparison that 
domestic life was that which could alone make her really and 
permanently happy. She missed none of the pleasures, none 
of the gay company, to which she had been accustomed at 
Lady Delacour's. She was conscious, at the end of each day, 

222 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

that it had been agreeably spent ; yet there were no extra- 
ordinary exertions made to entertain her ; everything seemed 
in its natural course, and so did her mind. Where there was 
so much happiness, no want of what is called pleasure was 
ever experienced. She had not been at Oakly Park a week 
before she forgot that it was within a few miles of Harrowgate, 
and she never once recollected her vicinity to this fashionable 
water-drinking place for a month afterwards. 

* Impossible 1 ' some young ladies will exclaim. We hope 
others will feel that it was perfectly natural. But to deal 
fairly with our readers, we must not omit to mention a certain 
Mr. Vincent, who came to Oakly Park during the first week of 
Belinda's visit, and who stayed there during the whole succeed- 
ing month of felicity. Mr. Vincent was a Creole ; he was 
about two-and-twenty : his person and manners were striking 
and engaging ; he was tall, and remarkably handsome ; he 
had large dark eyes, an aquiline nose, fine hair, and a manly 
sunburnt complexion ; his countenance was open and friendly, 
and when he spoke upon any interesting subject, it lighted up, 
and became full of fire and animation. He used much gesture 
in conversation ; he had not the common manners of young 
men who are, or who aim at being thought, fashionable, but 
he was perfectly at ease in company, and all that was un- 
common about him appeared foreign. He had a frank, ardent 
temper, incapable of art or dissimulation, and so unsuspicious 
of all mankind, that he could scarcely believe falsehood existed 
in the world, even after he had himself been its dupe. He 
was in extreme astonishment at the detection of any species of 
baseness in a gentleman j for he considered honour and 
generosity as belonging indefeasibly, if not exclusively, to the 
privileged orders. His notions of virtue were certainly aristo- 
cratic in the extreme, but his ambition was to entertain such 
only as would best support and dignify an aristocracy. His 
pride was magnanimous, not insolent ; and his social prejudices 
were such as, in some degree, to supply the place of the power 
and habit of reasoning, in which he was totally deficient. One 
principle of philosophy he practically possessed in perfection ; 
he enjoyed the present, undisturbed by any unavailing regret 
for the past, or troublesome solicitude about the future. All 
the goods of life he tasted with epicurean zest ; all the evils he 
bore with stoical indifference. The mere pleasure of existence 

223 



-> '. '"^ 



BELINDA 

seemed to keep him in perpetual good humour with himself 
and others ; and his never-failing flow of animal spirits exhilar- 
ated even the most phlegmatic. To persons of a cold and 
reserved temper he sometimes appeared rather too much of an 
egotist : for he talked with fluent enthusiasm of the excellent 
qualities and beauties of whatever he loved, whether it were 
his dog, his horse, or his country : but this was not the egotism 
of vanity ; it was the overflowing of an affectionate heart, con- 
fident of obtaining sympathy from his fellow-creatures, because 
conscious of feeling it for all that existed. 

He was as grateful as he was generous ; and though high- 
spirited and impatient of restraint, he would submit with 
affectionate gentleness to the voice of a friend, or listen with 
deference to the counsel of those in whose superior judgment 
he had confidence. Gratitude, respect, and affection, all con- 
spired to give Mr. Percival the strongest power over his soul. 
Mr. Percival had been a guardian and a father to him. His 
own father, an opulent merchant, on his death-bed requested 
that his son, who was then about eighteen, might be immedi- 
ately sent to England for the advantages of a European 
education. Mr. Percival, who had a regard for the father, 
arising from circumstances which it is not here necessary to 
explain, accepted the charge of young Vincent, and managed 
so well, that his ward when he arrived at the age of twenty-one 
did not feel relieved from any restraint On the contrary, his 
attachment to his guardian increased from that period, when 
the laws gave him full command over his fortune and his 
actions. Mr. Vincent had been at Harrowgate for some time 
before Mr. Percival came into the country ; but as soon as he 
heard of Mr. Percival's arrival, he left half finished a game of 
billiards, of which, by the bye, he was extremely fond, to pay 
his respects at Oakly Park. At the first sight of Belinda, he 
did not seem much struck with her appearance ; perhaps, from 
his thinking that there was too little languor in her eyes, and 
too much colour in her cheeks ; he confessed that she was 
graceful, but her motions were not quite slow enough to please 
him. 

It is somewhat singular that Lady Delacour's faithful friend, 
Harriot Freke, should be the cause of Mr. Vincent's first fixing 
his favourable attention on Miss Portman. 

He had a black servant of the name of Juba, who was ex* 

224 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

tremely attached to him : he had known Juba from a boy, and 
had brought him over with him when he first came to England, 
because the poor fellow begged so earnestly to go with young 
massa. Juba had lived with him ever since, and accompanied 
him wherever he went. Whilst he was at Harrowgate, Mr. 
Vincent lodged in the same house with Mrs. Freke. Some 
dispute arose between their servants, about the right to a 
coach-house, which each party claimed as exclusively tlieir 
own. The master of the house was appealed to by Juba, who 
sturdily maintained his massa's right ; he established it, and 
rolled his massa* s curricle into the coach-house in triumph. 
Mrs. Freke, who heard and saw the whole transaction from 
her window, said, or swore, that she would make Juba repent 
of what she called his insolence. The threat was loud enough 
to reach his ears, and he looked up in astonishment to hear 
such a voice from a woman ; but an instant afterwards he 
began to sing very gaily, as he jumped into the curricle to turn 
the cushions, and then danced himself up and down by the 
springs, as if rejoicing in his victory. A second and a third 
time Mrs. Freke repeated her threat, confirming it by an oath, 
and then violently shut down the window and disappeared. 
Mr. Vincent, to whom Juba, with much simplicity, expressed 
his aversion of the man-wotnan who lived in the house with 
them, laughed at the odd manner in which the black imitated 
her voice and gesture, but thought no more of the matter. 
Some time afterward, however, Juba's spirits forsook him ; he 
was never heard to sing or to whistle, he scarcely ever spoke 
even to his master, who was much surprised by this sudden 
change from gaiety and loquacity to melancholy taciturnity. 
Nothing could draw from the poor fellow any explanation of 
the cause of this alteration in his humour ; and though he 
seemed excessively grateful for the concern which his master 
showed about his health, no kindness or amusement could 
restore him to his wonted cheerfulness. Mr. Vincent knew 
that he was passionately fond of music ; and having heard him 
once express a wish for a tambourine, he gave him one : but 
Juba never played upon it, and his spirits seemed every day to 
grow worse and worse. This melancholy lasted during the 
whole time that he remained at Harrowgate, but from the first 
day of his arrival at Oakly Park he began to mend : after he 
had been there a week, he was heard to sing, and whistle, and 

Q 225 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

talk as he used to do, and his master congratulated him upon 
his recovery. One evening his master asked him to go back 
to Harrowgate for his tambourine, as little Charles Percival 
wished to hear him play upon it. This simple request had a 
wonderful effect upon poor Juba ; he began to tremble from 
head to foot, his eyes became fixed, and he stood motionless ; 
after some time, he suddenly clasped his hands, fell upon his 
knees, and exclaimed : 

* Oh, massa, Juba die ! If Juba go back, Juba die ! ' and he 
wiped away the drops that stood upon his forehead. * But me 
will go, if "massa bid — me will die ! * 

Mr. Vincent began to imagine that the poor fellow was out of 
his senses. He assured him, with the greatest kindness, that 
he would almost as soon hazard his own life as that of such a 
faithful, affectionate servant ; but he pressed him to explain 
what possible danger he dreaded from returning to Harrow- 
gate. Juba was silent, as if afraid to speak — < Don't fear to 
speak to me,' said Mr. Vincent ; * I will defend you : if any- 
body have injured you, or if you dread that anybody will injure 
you, trust to me ; I will protect you.' 

< Ah, massa, you no can ! Me die, if me go back ! Me no 
can say word more ; ' and he put his finger upon his lips, and 
shook his head. Mr. Vincent knew that Juba was excessively 
superstitious ; and convinced, that, if his mind were not already 
deranged, it would certainly become so, were any secret terror 
thus to prey upon his imagination, he assumed a very grave 
countenance, and assured him, that he should be extremely 
displeased if he persisted in this foolish and obstinate silence. 
Overcome by this, Juba burst into tears, and answered : 

* Den me will tell all.' 

This conversation passed before Miss Portman and Charles 
Percival, who were walking in the park with Mr. Vincent, at 
the time he met Juba and asked him to go for the tambourine. 
When he came to the words, * Me will tell all,' he made a sign 
that he wished to tell it to his master alone. Belinda and the 
little boy walked on, to leave him at liberty to speak; and 
then, though with a sort of reluctant horror, he told that the 
figure of an old woman, all in flames, had appeared to him in 
his bed-chamber at Harrowgate every night, and that he was 
sure she was one of the obeah-women of his own country, who 
had pursued him to Europe to revenge his having once, when 

227 



M I 



BELINDA 

he was a child, trampled upon an egg-shell that contained 
some of her poisons. The extreme absurdity of this story 
made Mr. Vincent burst out a laughing ; but his humanity the 
next instant made him serious ; for the poor victim of super- 
stitious terror, after having revealed what, according to the 
belief of his country, it is death to mention, fell senseless on 
the ground. When he came to himself, he calmly said, that 
he knew he must now die, for that the obeah-women never 
forgave those that talked of them or their secrets ; and, with a 
deep groan, he added, that he wished he might die before 
night, that he might not see her again. It was in vain to 
attempt to reason him out of the idea that he had actually seen 
this apparition : his account of it was, that it first appeared to 
him in the coach-house one night, when he went thither in the 
dark — that he never afterwards went to the coach-house in the 
dark — ^but that the same figure of an old woman, all in flames, 
appeared at the foot of his bed every night whilst he stayed at 
Harrowgate ; and that he was then persuaded she would never 
let him escape from her power till she had killed him. That 
since he had left Harrowgate, however, she had not tormented 
him, for he had never seen her, and he was in hopes that she 
had forgiven him ; but that now he was sure of her vengeance 
for having spoken of her, 

Mr. Vincent knew the astonishing power which the belief 
in this species of sorcery ^ has over the minds of the Jamaica 
negroes ; they pine and actually die away from the moment 
they fancy themselves under the malignant influence of these 
witches. He almost gave poor Juba over for lost. The first 
person that he happened to meet after his conversation was 
Belinda, to whom he eagerly related it, because he had 
observed, that she had listened with much attention and 
sympathy to the beginning of the poor fellow's story. The 
moment that she heard of the flaming apparition, she re- 
collected having seen a head drawn in phosphorus, which one 
of the children had exhibited for her amusement, and it occurred 
to her that, perhaps, some imprudent or ill-natured person 
might have terrified the ignorant negro by similar means. 
When she mentioned this to Mr. Vincent, he recollected the 
threat that had been thrown out by Mrs. Freke, the day thai 
Juba had taken possession of the disputed coach-house ; and 
* See Edwards's History of the West Indies^ vol. ii. 

228 



DOMESTIC HAPPINESS 

from the character of this lady, Belinda judged that she would 
be likely to play such a trick, and to call it, as usual, fun or 
frolic. Miss Portman suggested that one of the children 
should show him the phosphorus, and should draw some 
ludicrous figure with it in his presence. This was done, and it 
had the effect that she expected. Juba, familiarised by degrees 
with the object of his secret horror, and convinced that no 
obeah-woman was exercising over him her sorceries, recovered 
his health and spirits. His gratitude to Miss Portman, who 
was the immediate cause of his cure, was as simple and touch- 
ing as it was lively and sincere. This was the circumstance 
which first turned Mr. Vincent's attention towards Belinda. 
Upon examining the room in which the negro used to sleep at 
Harrowgate, the strong smell of phosphorus was perceived, and 
part of the paper was burnt on the very spot where he had 
always seen the figure, so that he was now perfectly convinced 
that this trick had been purposely played to frighten him, in 
revenge for his having kept possession of the coach-house. 

Mrs. Freke, when she found herself detected, gloried in the 
jest, and told the story as a good joke wherever she went — 
triumphing in the notion, that it was she who had driven both 
master and man from Harrowgate. 

The exploit was, however, by no means agreeable in its 
consequences to her friend Mrs. Luttridge, who was now at 
Harrowgate. For reasons of her own, she was very anxious 
to fix Mr. Vincent in her society, and she was much provoked 
by Mrs. Freke's conduct. The ladies came to high words 
upon the occasion, and an irreparable breach would have 
ensued had not Mrs. Freke, in the midst of her rage, re- 
collected Mrs. Luttridge's electioneering interest : and suddenly 
changing her tone, she declared that * she was really sorry to 
have driven Mr. Vincent from Harrowgate ; that her only 
intention was to get rid of his black ; she would lay any 
wager, that, with Mrs. Luttridge's assistance, they could soon 
get the gentleman back again ; ' and she proposed, as a certain 
method of fixing Mr. Vincent in Mrs. Luttridge's society, to 
invite Belinda to Harrowgate. 

* You may be sure,' said Mrs. Freke, * that she must by this 
time be cursedly tired of her visit to those stupid good people 
at Oakly Park, and never woman wanted an excuse to do any- 
thing she liked : so trust to her own ingenuity to make some 

229 



BELINDA 

decent apology to the Percivals for running away from them. 
As to Vincent, you may be sure Belinda Portman is his only 
inducement for staying with that precious family party ; and if 
we have her we have him. Now we can be sure of her, for 
she has just quarrelled with our dear Lady Delacour. I had 
the whole story from my maid, who had it from Champfort. 
Lady Delacour and she are at daggers-drawing, and it will be 
delicious to her to hear her ladyship handsomely abused. We 
are the declared enemies of her enemy, so we must be her 
friends. Nothing unites folk so quickly and so solidly, as 
hatred of some common foe.' 

This arg^ument could not fail to convince Mrs. Luttridge, 
and the next day Mrs. Freke commenced her operations. She 
drove in her unicorn to Oakly Park to pay Miss Portman a 
visit. She had no acquaintance either with Mr. Percival or 
Lady Anne, and she had always treated Belinda, when she 
met her in town, rather cavalierly, as an humble companion of 
Lady Delacour. But it cost Mrs. Freke nothing to change 
her tone : she was one of those ladies who can remember or 
forget people, be perfectly familiar or strangely rude, just as it 
suits the convenience, fashion, or humour of the minute. 



CHAPTER XVII 

RIGHTS OF WOMAN 

Belinda was alone, and reading, when Mrs. Freke dashed 
into the room. 

*How do, dear creature?' cried she, stepping up to her, 
and shaking hands with her boisterously — * How do ? — Glad 
to see you, faith ! — Been long here ? — Tremendously hot to- 
day!' 

She flung herself upon the sofa beside Belinda, threw her 
hat upon the table, and then continued speaking. 

*And how d'ye go on here, poor child? — Gad I I'm glad 
you're alone — expected to find you encompassed by a whole 
host of the righteous. Give me credit for my courage in 

230 



RIGHTS OF WOMAN 

coming to deliver you out of their hands. Luttridge and t 
had such compassion upon you, when we heard you were 
close prisoner here ! I swore to set the distressed damsel 
free, in spite of all the dragons in Christendom ; so let me 
carry you off in triumph in my unicorn, and leave these good 
people to stare when they come home from their sober walk, 
and find you gone. There's nothing I like so much as to 
make good people stare — I hope you're of my way o' thinking 
— ^you don't look as if you were, though ; but I never mind 
young ladies' looks — always give the lie to their thoughts. 
Now we talk o' looks — never saw you look so well in my life — 
as handsome as an angel ! And so much the better for me. 
Do you know, I've a bet of twenty guineas on your head — on 
your face, I mean, "fhere's a young bride at Harrowgate, 

Lady H , they're all mad about her : the men swear she's 

the handsomest woman in England, and I swear I know one 
ten times as handsome. They've dared me to make good my 
word, and I've pledged myself to produce my beauty at the 
next ball, and to pit her against their belle for any money. 
Most votes carry it. I'm willing to double my bet since I've 
seen you again. Come, had not we best be off? Now don't 
refuse me and make speeches — you know that's all nonsense — 
I'll take all the blame upon myself.' 

Belinda, who had not been suffered to utter a word whilst 
Mrs. Freke ran on in this strange manner, looked in unfeigned 
astonishment ; but when she foimd herself seized and dragged 
towards the door, she drew back with a degree of gentle firm- 
ness that astonished Mrs. Freke. With a smiling countenance, 
but a steady tone, she said * that she was sorry Mrs. Freke's 
knight-errantry should not be exerted in a better cause, for that 
she was neither a prisoner, nor a distressed damsel.' 

* And will you make me lose my bet ? ' cried Mrs. Freke. 
* Oh, at all events, you must come to the ball ! — I'm down for 
it. But I'll not press it now, because you're frightened out of 
your poor little wits, I see, at the bare thoughts of doing any 
thing considered out of rule by these good people. Well, well ! 
it shall be managed for you — leave that to me : I'm used to 
managing for cowards. Pray tell me — you and Lady Delacour 
are off, I understand ? — Give ye joy 1 — She and I were once 
great friends ; that is to say, I had over her " that power which 
strong minds have over weak ones," but she was too weak for 

231 



BELINDA 

me — one of those people that have neither courage to be good, 
nor to be bad.' 

* The courage to be bad/ said Belinda, * I believe, indeed, 
she does not possess.' 

Mrs. Freke stared. *Why, I heard you had quarrelled 
with her.' 

Mf I had,' said Belinda, < I hope that I should still do justice 
to her merits. It is said that people are apt to suffer more by 
their friends than their enemies. I hope that will never be the 
case with Lady Delacour, as I confess that I have been one of 
her friends.' 

* Gad, I like your spirit — you don't want courage, I see, to 
fight even for your enemies. You are just the kind of girl I 
admire. I see you have been prejudiced against me by Lady 
Delacour ; but whatever stories she may have trumped up, the 
truth of the matter is this, there's no living with her, she's so 
jealous — so ridiculously jealous — of that lord of hers, for whom 
all the time she has the impudence to pretend not to care more 
than I do for the sole of my boot,' said Mrs. Freke, striking it 
with her whip ; * but she hasn't the courage to give him tit for 
tat : now this is what I call weakness. Pray, how do she and 
Clarence Hervey go on together ? — Are they out o' the hornbook 
of platonics yet ? ' 

* Mr. Hervey was not in town when I left it,' said Belinda. 
*Was not he? — Ho! ho! — He's off then! —Ay, so I 

prophesied ; she's not the thing for him : he has some strength 
of mind — some soul — above vulgar prejudices ; so must a 
woman be to hold him. He was caught at first by her grace 
and beauty, and that sort of stuff ; but I knew it could not last 
— knew she'd dilly-dally with Clary, till he would turn upon his 
heel and leave her there.' 

* I fancy that you are entirely mistaken both with respect to 
Mr. Hervey and Lady Delacour,' Belinda very seriously began 
to say. But Mrs. Freke interrupted her, and ran on ; * No ! 
no ! no ! I'm not mistaken ; Clarence has found her out. She's 
a very woman — that he could forgive her, and so could I ; 
but she's a mere woman — and that he can't forgive — no more 
can I.' 

There was a kind of drollery about Mrs. Freke, which, with 
some people, made the odd things she said pass for wit. 
Humour she really possessed ; and when she chose it, she 

232 



RIGHTS OF WOMAN 

could be diverting to those who like buffoonery in women. 
She had set her heart upon winning Belinda over to her party. 
She began by flattery of her beauty ; but as she saw that this 
had no effect, she next tried what could be done by insinuating 
that she had a high opinion of her understanding, by talking 
to her as an esprit fort, 

* For my part,' said she, * I own I should like a strong devil 
better than a weak angel.' 

* You forget,' said Belinda, * that it is not Milton, but Satan, 
who says, 

* Fallen spirit, to be weak is to be miserable.* 

* You read, I see ! — I did not know you were a reading girl. 
So was I once ; but I never read now. Books only spoil the 
originality of genius : very well for those who can't think for 
themselves — but when one has made up one's opinion, there 
is no use in reading.' 

*But to make them up,' replied Belinda, *may it not be 
useful ? ' 

* Of no use upon earth to minds of a certain class. You, 
who can think for yourself, should never read.' 

* But I read that I may think for myself 

* Only ruin your understanding, trust me. Books are full 
of trash — nonsense, conversation is worth all the books in the 
world.' 

* And is there never any nonsense in conversation ? ' 

* What have you here ? ' continued Mrs. Freke, who did not 
choose to attend to this question ; exclaiming, as she reviewed 
each of the books on the table in their turns, in the summary 
language of presumptuous ignorance, * Smith's Theory of Moral 
Sentiments — milk and water ! Moore's Travels — hasty pud- 
ding ! La Bruy^re — nettle porridge ! This is what you were 
at when I came in, was it not ? ' said she, taking up a book ^ 
in which she saw Belinda's mark : * " Against Inconsistency in 
our Expectations." Poor thing! who bored you with this task?' 

*Mr. Percival recommended it to me, as one of the best 
essays in the English language.' 

* The devil ! they seem to have put you in a course of the 
bitters — a course of the woods might do your business better. 
Do you ever hunt ? — Let me take you out with me some morning 

^ Miscellaneous Pieces^ by Mrs. Barbauld and Dr. Aikin. 

233 



BELINDA 

— you'd be quite an angel on horseback ; or let me drive you 
out some day in my unicorn.' 

Belinda declined this invitation, and Mrs. Freke strode 
away to the window to conceal her mortification, threw up the 
sash, and called out to her groom, ' Walk those horses about, 
blockhead ! ' 

Mr. Percival and Mr. Vincent at this instant came into the 
room. 

* Hail, fellow ! well met ! ' cried Mrs. Freke, stretching out 
her hand to Mr. Vincent. 

It has been remarked, that an antipathy subsists between 
creatures, who, without being the same, have yet a strong 
external resemblance. Mr. Percival saw this instinct rising 
in Mr. Vincent, and smiled. 

' Hail, fellow I well met ! I say. Shake hands and be 
friends, man 1 Though I'm not in the habit of making 
apologies, if it will be any satisfaction to you, I beg your 
pardon for frightening your poor devil of a black.' 

Then turning towards Mr. Percival, she measured him with 
her eye, as a person whom she longed to attack. She thought, 
that if Belinda's opinion of the understanding of these Percivals 
could be lowered, she should rise in her esteem : accordingly, 
she determined to draw Mr. Percival into an argument. 

* I've been talking treason, I believe, to Miss Portman,' 
cried she ; * for I've been opposing some of your opinions, Mr. 
Percival' 

* If you opposed them all, madam,' said Mr. Percival, * I 
should not think it treason.' 

* Vastly polite I — But I think all our politeness hypocrisy : 
what d'ye say to that ? ' 

' You know that best, madam ! ' 

*Then I'll go a step farther; for I'm determined you shall 
contradict me : I think all virtue is hypocrisy.' 

* I need not contradict you, madam,' said Mr. Percival, * for 
the terms which you make use of contradict themselves.' 

*It is my system,' pursued Mrs. Freke, *that shame is 
always the cause of the vices of women.' 

* It is sometimes the effect,' said Mr. Percival ; * and, as 
cause and effect are reciprocal, perhaps you may, in some 
instances, be right.' 

' Oh ! I hate qualifying arg^ers — plump assertion or plump 

234 



RIGHTS OF WOMAN 

denial for me : you sha'n't get off so. I say shame is the 
cause of all women's vices.' 

* False shame, I suppose you mean ? ' said Mr. Percival. 

* Mere play upon words ! All shame is false shame — ^we 
should be a great deal better without it. What say you, Miss 
Portman ? — Silent, hey ? Silence that speaks.' 

* Miss Portman's blushes,' said Mr. Vincent, * speak for 
her.' 

* Against her,' said Mrs. Freke : * women blush because .. 
they understand.' 

* And you would have them understand without blushing ? ' 
said Mr. Percival. * I grant you that nothing can be more differ- 
ent than innocence and ignorance. Female delicacy ' 

* This is just the way you men spoil women,' cried Mrs. 
Freke, * by talking to them of the delicacy of their sex^ and 
such stuff. This delicacy enslaves the pretty delicate dears.' 

* No ; it enslaves us,' said Mr. Vincent. 

* I hate slavery ! Vive la libertd 1 ' cried Mrs. Freke. * I'm 
a champion for the Rights of Woman.' 

< I am an advocate for their happiness,' said Mr. Percival, 
<and for their delicacy, as I think it conduces to their 
happiness.' 

* I'm an enemy to their delicacy, as I am sure it conduces 
to their misery.' 

' You speak from experience ? ' said Mr. Percival. 

*No, from observation. Your most delicate women are 
always the greatest hypocrites ; and, in my opinion, no hypocrite 
can or ought to be happy.' 

*But you have not proved the hypocrisy,' said Belinda. 
* Delicacy is not, I hope, an indisputable proof of it ? If you 
mean false delicacy ^ 

* To cut the matter short at once,' cried Mrs. Freke, * why, 
when a woman likes a man, does not she go and tell him so 
honestly ? ' 

Belinda, surprised by this question from a woman, was too 
much abashed instantly to answer. 

'Because she's a hypocrite. That is and must be the 
answer.' 

* No,' said Mr. Percival ; * because, if she be a woman of 
sense, she knows that by such a step she would disgust the 
object of her affection.' 

235 



BELINDA 

* Cunning ! — cunning ! — cunning ! — the arms of the weakest.' 

* Prudence ! prudence ! — the arms of the strongest. Taking 
the best means to secure our own happiness without injuring 
that of others is the best proof of sense and strength of mind, 
whether in man or woman. Fortunately for society, the same 
conduct in ladies which best secures their happiness most 
increases ours.' 

Mrs. Freke beat the deviPs tattoo for some moments, and then 
exclaimed, * You may say what you will, but the present system 
of society is radically wrong : — whatever is, is wrong.' 

* How would you improve the state of society ? ' asked Mr. 
Percival, calmly. 

* I'm not tinker-general to the world,' said she. 

* I'm glad of it,' said Mr. Percival ; * for I have heard that 
tinkers often spoil more than they mend.' 

* But if you want to know,' said Mrs. Freke, * what I would 
do to improve the world, I'll tell you : I'd have both sexes call 
things by their right names.' 

* This would doubtless be a great improvement,' said Mr. 
Percival ; * but you would not overturn society to attain it, 
would you ? Should we find things much improved by tearing 
away what has been called the decent drapery of life ? ' 

* Drapery, if you ask me my opinion,' cried Mrs. Freke, 

* drapery, whether wet or dry, is the most confoundedly in- 
decent thing in the world.' 

* That depends on public opinion, I allow,' said Mr. Percival. 

* The Lacedaemonian ladies, who were veiled only by public 
opinion, were better covered from profane eyes than some 
English ladies are in wet drapery.' 

< I know nothing of the Lacedaemonian ladies : I took my 
leave of them when I was a schoolboy — ^girl, I should say. But 
pray, what o'clock is it by you ? I've sat till I'm cramped all 
over,' cried Mrs. Freke, getting up and stretching herself so 
violently that some part of her habiliments gave way. * Honi 
soit quimal y pense ! ' said she, bursting into a horse laugh. 

Without sharing in any degree that confusion which Belinda 
felt for her, she strode out of the room, saying, * Miss Portman, 
you understand these things better than I do ; come and set 
me to rights.' 

When she was in Belinda's room, she threw herself into an 
arm-chair, and laughed immoderately. 

236 



BELINDA 

* How I have trimmed Percival this morning ! ' said she. 

* I am glad you think so,' said Belinda ; * for I really was 
afraid he had been too severe upon you.' 

* I only wish,' continued Mrs. Freke, * I only wish his wife 
had been by. Why the devil did not she make her appearance? 
I suppose the prude was afraid of my demolishing and un- 
rigging her.' 

* There seems to have been more danger of that for you than 
for anybody else,' said Belinda, as she assisted to set Mrs. 
Freke's tigging^ as she called it, to rights. 

M do of all things delight in hauling good people's opinions 
out of their musty drawers, and seeing how they look when 
they're all pulled to pieces before their faces ! Pray, are those 
Lady Anne's drawers or yours 1 ' said Mrs. Freke, pointing to 
a chest of drawers. a • ,- ' --' c^' •' • ■ • . . ' - j • .■ ■ 

* Mine.' . ' ' 

* I'm sorry for it ; for if they were hers, to punish her for 
shirking me, by the Lord, I'd have every rag she has in the 
world out in the middle of the floor in ten minutes ! You don't 
know me — I'm a terrible person when provoked — stop at 
nothing ! ' 

As Mrs. Freke saw no other chance left of gaining her point 
with Belinda, she tried what intimidating her would do. 

' I stop at nothing,' repeated she, fixing her eyes upon Miss 
Portman, to fascinate her by terror. * Friend or foe ! peace or 
war ! Take your choice. Come to the ball at Harrowgate, I 
win my bet, and I'm your sworn friend. Stay away, I lose my 
bet, and am your sworn enemy.' 

^t is not in my power, madam,' said Belinda, calmly, < to 
comply with your request.' 

* Then you'll take the consequences,' cried Mrs. Freke. She 
rushed past her, hurried downstairs, and called out, < Bid my 
blockhead bring my unicorn.' 

She, her unicorn, and her blockhead, were out of sight in a 
few minutes. 

Good may be drawn from evil. Mrs. Freke's conversation, 
though at the time it confounded Belinda, roused her, upon re- 
flection, to examine by her reason the habits and principles 
which guided her conduct. She had a general feeling that they 
were right and necessary ; but now, with the assistance of Lady 
Anne and Mr. Percival, she established in her own understand- 

238 



.'7 /" 



RIGHTS OF WOMAN 

ing the exact boundaries between right and wrong upon many 
subjects. She felt a species of satisfaction and security, from 
seeing the demonstration of those axioms of morality, in which 
she had previously acquiesced. Reasoning gradually became 
as agreeable to her as wit ; nor was her taste for wit diminished, 
it was only refined by this process. She now compared and 
judged of the value of the different species of this brilliant 
talent 

Mrs. Freke*s wit, thought she, is like a noisy squib, the 
momentary terror of passengers ; Lady Delacour's like an 
elegant firework, which we crowd to see, and cannot forbear to 
applaud ; but Lady Anne Percival's wit is like the refulgent 
moon, we 

' Love the mild rays, and bless the useful light.* 

* Miss Portman,* said Mr. Percival, * are not you afraid of 
making an enemy of Mrs. Freke, by declining her invitation to 
Harrowgate ? ' 

< I think her friendship more to be dreaded than her 
enmity,* replied Belinda. 

* Then you are not to be terrified by an obeah-woman ? ' said 
Mr. Vincent. 

< Not in the least, unless she were to come in the shape of 
a false friend,* said Belinda. 

*Till lately,' said Mr. Vincent, *I was deceived in the 
character of Mrs. Freke. I thought her a dashing, free-spoken, 
free-hearted sort of eccentric person, who would make a staunch 
friend and a jolly companion. As a mistress, or a wife, no 
man of any taste could think of her. Compare that woman 
now with one of our Creole ladies.' 

* But why with a Creole ? ' said Mr. Percival. 

' For the sake of contrast, in the first place : our Creole 
women are all softness, grace, delicacy * 

* And indolence,' said Mr. Percival. 

* Their indolence is but a slight, and, in my judgment, an 
amiable defect ; it keeps them out of mischief, and it attaches 
them to domestic life. The activity of a Mrs. Freke would 
never excite their emulation ; and so much the better.' 

* So much the better, no doubt,' said Mr. Percival. * But 
is there no other species of activity that might excite their 
ambition with propriety? Without diminishing their grace, 

239 



BELINDA 

softness, or delicacy, might not they cultivate their minds ? 
Do you think ignorance, as well as indolence, an amiable 
defect, essential to the female character ? ' 

* Not essential. You do not, I hope, imagine that I am so 
much prejudiced in favour of my countrywomen, that I can 
neither see nor feel the superiority in some instances of 
European cultivation ? I speak only in general.' 

*And in general,' said Lady Anne Percival, *does Mr. 
Vincent wish to confine our sex to the bliss of ignorance ? ' 

* If it be bliss,' said Mr. Vincent, * what reason would they 
have for complaint ? ' 

<7/^' said Belinda; <but that is a question which you have 
not yet decided.' 

*And how can we decide it?' said Mr. Vincent *The 
taste and feelings of individuals must be the arbiters of their 
happiness.' 

* You leave reason quite out of the question, then,' said Mr. 
Percival, * and refer the whole to taste and feeling ? So that if 
the most ignorant person in the world assert that he is happier 
than you are, you are bound to believe him.' 

* Why should not I ? ' said Mr. Vincent 

* Because,' said Mr. Percival, * though he can judge of his 
own pleasures, he cannot judge of yours ; his are common to 
both, but yours are unknown to him. Would you, at this 
instant, change places with that ploughman yonder, who is 
whistling as he goes for want of thought ? or, would you 
choose to go a step higher in the bliss of ignorance, and turn 
savage ? ' 

Mr. Vincent laughed, and protested that he should be very 
unwilling to give up his title to civilised society ; and that, in- 
stead of wishing to have less knowledge, he regretted that he 
had not more. * I am sensible,' said he, * that I have many 
prejudices ; — Miss Portman has made me ashamed of some of 
them.' 

There was a degree of candour in Mr. Vincent's manner and 
conversation, which interested everybody in his favour ; Belinda 
amongst the rest. She was perfectly at ease in Mr. Vincent's 
company, because she considered him as a person who wished 
for her friendship, without having any design to engage her 
affections. From several hints that dropped from him, from 
Mr. Percival, and from Lady Anne, she was persuaded that he 

240 



A DECLARATION 

was attached to some Creole lady; and all that he said in 
favour of the elegant softness and delicacy of his countrywomen 
confirmed this opinion. 

Miss Portman was not one of those young ladies who fancy 
that every gentleman who converses freely with them will 
inevitably fall a victim to the power of their charms, and who 
see in every man a lover, or nothing. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

A DECLARATION 

* PvE found it ! — Pve found it, mamma ! ' cried little Charles 
Percival, running eagerly into the room with a plant in his 
hand. * Will you send this in your letter to Helena Delacour, 
and tell her that is the thing that goldfishes are so fond of ? 
And tell her that it is called lemna, and that it may be found 
in any ditch or pool.' 

*But how can she find ditches and pools in Grosvenor 
Square, my dear ? ' 

* Oh, I forgot that. Then will you tell her, mamma, that I 
will send her a great quantity ? ' 

* How, my dear ? ' 

* I don't know, mamma, yet — but I will find out some way.' 

* Would it not be as well, my dear,' said his mother, smiling, 

* to consider how you can perform your promises before you 
make them ? ' 

* A gentleman,' said Mr. Vincent,, * never makes a promise 
that he cannot perform.' 

* I know that very well,' said the boy proudly : * Miss 
Portman, who is very good-natured, will, I am sure, be so 
good, when she goes back to Lady Delacour, as to carry food 
for the goldfishes to Helena — you see that I have found out 
a way to keep my promise.' 

*No, I'm afraid not,' said Belinda; *for I am not going 
back to Lady Delacour's.' 

* Then I am very glad of it ! ' said the boy, dropping the 
weed, and clapping his hands joyfully ; * for then I hope you 

R 241 



BELINDA 

will always stay here, don't you, mamma ? — don't you^ Mr. 
Vincent ? Oh, you do, I am sure, for I heard you say so to 
papa the other day I But what makes you grow so red ? ' 

His mother took him by the hand, as he was going to 
repeat the question, and leading him out of the room, desired 
him to show her the place where he found the food for the 
goldfishes. 

Belinda, to Mr. Vincent's great relief, seemed not to take 
any notice of the child's question, nor to have any sympathy in 
his curiosity ; she was intently copying Westall's sketch of 
Lady Anne Percival and her family, and she had been roused, 
by the first mention of Helena Delacour's name, to many 
painful and some pleasing recollections. *What a charming 
woman, and what a charming family ! ' said Mr. Vincent, as 
he looked at the drawing ; * and how much more interesting is 
this picture of domestic happiness than all the pictures of 
shepherds and shepherdesses, and gods and goddesses, that 
ever were drawn ! ' 

* Yes,' said Belinda, * and how much more interesting this 
picture is to us, from our knowing that it is not a fancy-piece ; 
that the happiness is real, not imaginary : that this is the 
natural expression of affection in the countenance of the 
mother ; and that these children, who crowd round her, are 
what they seem to be — the pride and pleasure of her life ! ' 

* There cannot,' exclaimed Mr. Vincent, with enthusiasm, 
* be a more delightful picture ! O Miss Portman, is it 
possible that you should not feel what you can paint so 
well ? ' 

Ms it possible, sir,' said Belinda, 'that you should suspect 
me of such wretched hypocrisy, as to affect to admire what I 
am incapable of feeling ? ' 

* You misunderstand — you totally misunderstand me. Hypo- 
crisy ! No ; there is not a woman upon earth whom I believe 
to be so far above all hypocrisy, all affectation. But I ima- 
gined — I feared ' 

As he spoke these last words he was in some confusion, and 
hastily turned over the prints in a portfolio which lay upon the 
table. Belinda's eye was caught by an engraving of Lady 
Delacour in the character of the comic muse. Mr. Vincent 
did not know the intimacy that had subsisted between her 
ladyship and Miss Portman — she sighed from the recollection 

242 



A DECLARATION 

of Clarence Hervey, and of all that had passed at the 
masquerade. 

* What a contrast ! ' said Mr. Vincent, placing the print of 
Lady Delacour beside the picture of Lady Anne Percival. 
'What a contrast! Compare their pictures — compare their 
characters — compare * 

* Excuse me,' interrupted Belinda ; * Lady Delacour was 
once my friend, and I do not like to make a comparison so 
much to her disadvantage. I have never seen any woman 
who would not suffer by a comparison with Lady Anne 
Percival.' 

* I have been more fortunate, I hanje seen one — one equally 
worthy of esteem — admiration — love.' 

Mr. Vincent's voice faltered in pronouncing the word love ; 
yet Belinda, prepossessed by the idea that he was attached to 
some Creole lady, simply answered, without looking up from her 
drawing, * You are indeed very fortunate — peculiarly fortunate. , 
Are the West-Indian ladies ' 

* West-Indian ladies ! ' interrupted Mr. Vincent. * Surely, 
Miss Portman cannot imagine that I am at this instant thinking 
of any West-Indian lady ! ' Belinda looked up with an air of 
surprise. * Charming Miss Portman,' continued he, * I have 
learnt to admire European beauty .^ European excellence / I have 
acquired new ideas of the female character — ideas — feelings that 
must henceforward render me exquisitely happy or exquisitely 
miserable.' 

Miss Portman had been too often called * charming^ to be^ 
much startled or delighted by the sound : the word would have 
passed by unnoticed, but there was something so impassioned 
in Mr. Vincent's manner, that she could no longer mistake it 
for common gallantry, and she was in evident confusion. Now 
for the first time the idea of Mr. Vincent as a lover came into 
her mind : the next instant she accused herself of vanity, 
and dreaded that he should read her thoughts. * Exquisitely 
miserable I ' said she, in a tone of raillery : * I should not 
suppose, from what I have seen of Mr. Vincent, that anything 
could make him exquisitely miserable.' 

* Then you do not know my character — you do not know my 
heart : it is in your power to make me exquisitely miserable. 
Mine is not the cold, hackneyed phrase of gallantry, but the 
fervid language of passion,' cried he, seizing her hand. 

243 



BELINDA 

At this instant one of the children came in with some flowers 
to Belinda ; and, glad of the interruption, she hastily put up 
her drawings and left the room, observing that she should 
scarcely have time to dress before dinner. However, as soon 
as she found herself alone, she forgot how late it was ; and 
though she sat down before the glass to dress, she made no 
progress in the business, but continued for some time motion- 
less, endeavouring to recollect and to understand all that had 
passed. The result of her reflections was the conviction that 
her partiality for Clarence Hervey was greater than she ever 
had till this moment suspected. * I have told my aunt Stanhope,' 
thought she, * that the idea of Mr. Hervey had no influence in 
my refusal of Sir Philip Baddely ; I have said that my affections 
are entirely at my own command : then why do I feel this alarm 
at the discovery of Mr. Vincent's views ? Why do I compare 
him with one whom I thought I had forgotten ? — And yet how 
are we to judge of character ? How can we form any estimate 
of what is amiable, of what will make us happy or miserable, 
but by comparison ? Am I to blame for perceiving superiority ? 
Am I to blame if one person be more agreeable, or seem to be 
more agreeable, than another? Am I to blame if I cannot 
love Mr. Vincent ? ' 

Before Belinda had answered these questions to her satis- 
faction, the dinner-bell rang. There happened to dine this 
day at Mr. Percival's a gentleman who had just arrived from 
Lisbon, and the conversation turned upon the sailors' practice 
of stilling the waves over the bar of Lisbon by throwing oil 
upon the water. Charles Percival's curiosity was excited by 
this conversation, and he wished to see the experiment. In 
the evening his father indulged his wishes. The children were 
delighted at the sight, and little Charles insisted upon Belinda's 
following him to a particular spot, where he was well convinced 
that she could see better than anywhere else in the world. 
*Take care,' cried Lady Anne, *or you will lead your friend 
into the river, Charles.' The boy paused, and soon afterwards 
asked his father several questions about swimming and drown- 
ing, and bringing people to life after they had been drowned. 
* Don't you remember, papa,' said he, * thcU Mr. Hervey, who 
was almost drowned in the Serpentine river in London?' — 
Belinda coloured at hearing unexpectedly the name of the 
person of whom she was at that instant thinking, and the 

244 



A DECLARATION 

child continued — * I liked that Mr. Hervey very much — I liked 
him from the first day I saw him. What a number of entertain- 
ing things he told us at dinner ! We used to call him the good- 
natured gentleman : I like him very much — I wish he was here 
this minute. Did you ever see him, Miss Portman ? Oh, yes, 
you must have seen him ; for it was he who carried Helena's 
goldfishes to her mother, and he used often to be at Lady 
Delacour's — ^was not he ? ' 

* Yes, my dear, often.' 

*And did not you like him very much?' — This simple 
question threw Belinda into inexpressible confusion : but for- 
tunately the crimson on her face was seen only by Lady Anne 
Percival. To Belinda's great satisfaction, Mr. Vincent forbore 
this evening any attempt to renew the conversation of the 
morning ; he endeavoured to mix, with his usual animation and 
gaiety, in the family society ; and her embarrassment was much 
lessened when she heard the next day, at breakfast, that he was 
gone to Harrowgate. Lady Anne Percival took notice that she 
was this morning imusually sprightly. 

After breakfast, as they were passing through the hall to take 
a walk in the park, one of the little boys stopped to look at a 
musical instrument which hung up against the wall. 

* What is this, mamma ? — It is not a guitar, is it ? ' 

* No, my dear, it is called a banjore ; it is an African instru- 
ment, of which the negroes are particularly fond. Mr. Vincent 
mentioned it the other day to Miss Portman, and I believe she 
expressed some curiosity to see one. Juba went to work im- 
mediately to make a banjore, I find. Poor fellow I I daresay 
that he was very sorry to go to Harrowgate, and to leave his 
African guitar half finished ; especially as it was intended for an 
offering to Miss Portman. He is the most grateful, affectionate 
creature I ever saw.' 

* But why, mamma,' said Charles Percival, * is Mr. Vincent 
gone away ? I am sorry he is gone ; I hope he will soon 
come back. In the meantime, I must run and water my 
carnations.' 

* His sorrow for his friend Mr. Vincent's departure does not 
seem to affect his spirits much,' said Lady Anne. * People 
who expect sentiment from children of six years old will be 
disappointed, and will probably teach them affectation. Surely 
it is much better to let their natural affections have time to 

245 



BELINDA 

expand. If we tear the rosebud open we spoil the flower.' 
Belinda smiled at this parable of the rosebud, which, she 
said, might be applied to men and women, as well as to 
children. 

* And yet, upon reflection,' said Lady Anne, * the heart has 
nothing in conmion with a rosebud. Nonsensical allusions pass 
off very prettily in conversation. I mean, when we converse 
with partial friends : but we should reason ill, and conduct our- 
selves worse, if we were to trust implicitly to poetical analogies. 
Our affections,' continued Lady Anne, * arise from circum- 
stances totally independent of our will.' 

* That is the very thing I meant to say,' interrupted Belinda 
eagerly. 

* They are excited by the agreeable or useful qualities that 
we discover in things or in persons.' 

* Undoubtedly,' said Belinda. 

* Or by those which our fancies discover,' said Lady Anne. 
Belinda was silent ; but, after a pause, she said, < That it 

was certainly very dangerous, especially for women, to trust to 
fancy in bestowing their affections.' *And yet,' said Lady 
Anne, Mt is a danger to which they are much exposed in 
society. Men have it in their power to assume the appearance 
of everything that is amiable and estimable, and women have 
scarcely any opportunities of detecting the counterfeit.' 

* Without Ithuriel's spear, how can they distinguish the good 
from the evil ? ' said Belinda. * This is a commonplace com- 
plaint, I know ; the ready excuse that we silly young women 
plead, when we make mistakes for which our friends reproach 
us, and for which we too often reproach ourselves.' 

*The complaint is commonplace precisely because it is 
general and just,' replied Lady Anne. * In the slight and frivolous 
intercourse, which fashionable belles usually have with those 
fashionable beaux who call themselves their lovers, it is surprising 
that they can discover anything of each other's real character. 
Indeed they seldom do ; and this probably is the cause why there 
are so many unsuitable and unhappy marriages. A woman who 
has an opportunity of seeing her lover in private society, in 
domestic life, ]}as infinite advantages ; for if she has any sense, 
and he has any sincerity, the real character of both may perhaps 
be developed.' 

* True,' said Belinda (who now suspected that Lady Anne 

246 



A DECLARATION 

alluded to Mr. Vincent) ; * and in such a situation a woman 
would readily be able to decide whether the man who ad- 
dressed her would suit her taste or not ; so she would be inex- 
cusable if, either from vanity or coquetry, she disguised her real 
sentiments.' 

* And will Miss Portman, who cannot, by any one to whom 
she is known, be suspected of vanity or coquetry, permit me 
to speak to her with the freedom of a friend ? ' 

Belinda, touched by the kindness of Lady Anne's manner, 
pressed her hand and exclaimed, < Yes, dear Lady Anne, speak 
to me with freedom — ^you cannot do me a greater favour. No 
thought of my mind, no secret feeling of my heart, shall be- 
concealed from you.' 

< Do not imagine that I wish to encroach upon the generous 
openness of your temper,' said Lady Anne ; * tell me when I go 
too far, and I will be silent. One who, like Miss Portman, has 
lived in the world, has seen a variety of characters, and probably 
has had a variety of admirers, must have formed some deter- 
minate idea of the sort of companion that would make her 
happy, if she were to marry — unless,' said Lady Anne, * she 
has formed a resolution against marriage.' 

< I have formed no such resolution,' said Belinda. < Indeed, 
since I have seen the happiness which you and Mr. Percival 
enjoy in your own family, I have been much more disposed to 
think that a union — that a union such as yours, would increase 
my happiness. At the same time, my aversion to the idea of 
marrying from interest, or convenience, or from any motives 
but esteem and love, is increased almost to horror. O Lady 
Anne 1 there is nothing that I would not do to please the 
friends to whom I am under obligations, except sacrificing my 
peace of mind, or my integrity, the happiness of my life, by ' 

Lady Anne, in a gentle tone, assured her that she was the 
last person in the world who would press her to any union 
which would make her unhappy. *You perceive that Mr. 
Vincent has spoken to me of what passed between you yester- 
day. You perceive that I am his friend, but do not forget that 
I am also yours. If you fear undue influence from any of your 
relations in favour of Mr. Vincent's large fortune, etc., let his 
proposal remain a secret between ourselves, till you can decide, 
from farther acquaintance with him, whether it will be in your 
power to return his affection.' 

247 



f 



BELINDA 

* I fear, my dear Lady Anne,' cried Belinda, * that it is not 
in my power to return his affection.' 

* And may I ask your objections ? * 

< Is it not a sufficient objection, that I am persuaded I 
cannot love him ? * 

' No ; for you may be mistaken in that persuasion. 
Remember what we said a little while ago, 2\yo\x\, fancy and spon- 
taneous affections. Does Mr. Vincent appear to you defective 
in any of the qualities which you think essential to happiness ? 
Mr. Percival has known him from the time he was a man, and 
can answer for his integrity and his good temper. Are not 
these the first points you would consider ? They ought to be, 
I am sure, and I believe they are. Of his understanding I 
shall say nothing, because you have had full opportunities of 
judging of it from his conversation.' 

* Mr. Vincent appears to have a good understanding,' said 
Belinda. 

* Then to what do you object ? — Is there anything disgusting 
to you in his person or manners } ' 

* He is very handsome, he is well bred, and his manners are 
unaffected,' said Belinda ; * but — do not accuse me of caprice 
— altogether he does not suit my taste ; and I cannot think it 
sufficient not to feel disgust for a husband — ^though I believe 
this is the fashionable doctrine.' 

* It is not mine, I assure you,' said Lady Anne. ^ I am not 
one of those who think it " safest to begin with a little aversion " ; 
but since you acknowledge that Mr. Vincent possesses the 
essential good qualities that entitle him to your esteem, I am 
satisfied. We gradually acquire knowledge of the good qualities 
of those who endeavour to please us ; and if they are really 
amiable, their persons become agreeable to us by degrees, when 
we become accustomed to them.' 

' Accustomed ! ' said Belinda, smiling : < one does grow 
accustomed even to disagreeable things certainly ; but at this 
rate, my dear Lady Anne, I do not doubt but one might grow 
accustomed to Caliban.' 

* My belief in the reconciling power of custom does not go 
quite so far,' said Lady Anne. ' It does not extend to Caliban, 
or even to the hero oi La Belle et La Bitej but I do believe, that, 
in a mind so well regulated as yours, esteem may certainly in 
time be improved into love. I will tell Mr. Vincent so, my dear.' 

248 






A DECLARATION 

* No, my dear Lady Anne 1 no ; you must not — indeed you 
must not. You have too good an opinion of me — my mind is 
not so well regulated — I am much weaker, much sillier, than 
you imagine — than you can conceive,' said Belinda. 

Lady Anne soothed her with the most affectionate expres- 
sions, and concluded with saying; * Mr. Vincent has promised 
not to return from Harrowgate, to torment you with his 
addresses, if you be absolutely determined against him. He is 
of too generous, and perhaps too proud a temper, to persecute 
you with vain solicitations ; and however Mr. Percival and I 
may wish that he could obtain such a wife, we shall have the 
common, or uncommon, sense and good nature to allow our 
friends to be happy their own way.' 

* You are very good — ^too good. But am I then to be the 
cause of banishing Mr. Vincent from all his friends — from 
Oakly Park ? ' 

* Will he not do what is most prudent, to avoid the charm- 
ing Miss Portman,' said Lady Anne, smiling, ' if he must not 
love her ? This was at least the advice I gave him, when he 
consulted us yesterday evening. But I will not sign his writ 
of banishment lightly. Nothing but the assurance that the 
heart is engaged can be a sufficient cause for despair ; nothing 
else could, in my eyes, justify you, my dear Belinda, from the 
charge of caprice.' 

* I can give you no such assurance, I hope — I believe,' said 
Belinda, in great confusion; 'and yet I would not for the 
world deceive you : you have a right to my sincerity.' She 
paused ; and Lady Anne said with a smile, ' Perhaps I can 
spare you the trouble of telling me in words what a blush told 
me, or at least made me suspect, yesterday evening, when we 
were standing by the river side, when little Charles asked 
you ' 

Yes, I remember — I saw you look at me.' 

* Undesignedly, believe me.' 

* Undesignedly, I am sure ; but I was afraid you would 
think ' 

* The truth.' 

*Noj but more than the truth. The truth you shall 
hear ; and the rest I will leave to your judgment and to your 
kindness.' 

Belinda gave a full account of her acquaintance with Clarence 

249 



BELINDA 

Hervey ; of the variations in his manner towards her ; of his 
excellent conduct with respect to Lady Delacour (of this, 
by the bye, she spoke at large). But she was more concise 
when she touched upon the state of her own heart ; and her 
voice almost failed when she came to the history of the lock of 
beautiful hair, the Windsor incognita, and the picture of Virginia. 
She concluded by expressing her conviction of the propriety of 
forgetting a man, who was in all probability attached to another, 
and she declared it to be her resolution to banish him from her 
thoughts. Lady Anne said, *that nothing could be more 
prudent or praiseworthy than forming such a resolution — except 
keeping it' Lady Anne had a high opinion of Mr. Hervey ; 
but she had no doubt, from Belinda's account, and from her 
own observations on Mr. Hervey, and from slight circumstances 
which had accidentally come to Mr. Percival's knowledge, that 
he was, as Belinda suspected, attached to another person. She 
wished, therefore, to confirm Miss Portman in this belief, and 
to turn her thoughts towards one who, beside being deserving 
of her esteem and love, felt for her the most sincere affection. 
She did not, however, press the subject farther at this time, but 
contented herself with requesting that Belinda would take three 
days (the usual time given for deliberation in fairy tales) before 
she should decide against Mr. Vincent. 

The next day they went to look at a porter's lodge, which 
Mr. Percival had just built ; it was inhabited by an old man 
and woman, who had for many years been industrious tenants, 
but who, in their old age, had been reduced to poverty, not by 
imprudence, but by misfortune. Lady Anne was pleased to 
see them comfortably settled in their new habitation ; and whilst 
she and Belinda were talking to the old couple, their grand- 
daughter, a pretty-looking girl of about eighteen, came in with 
a basket of eggs in her hand. * Well, Lucy,' said Lady Anne, 
* have you overcome your dislike to James Jackson ? ' The 
girl reddened, smiled, and looked at her grandmother, who 
answered for her in an arch tone, * Oh yes, my lady ! We are 
not afraid of Jackson now; we are grown very great friends. 
This pretty cane chair for my goodman was his handiwork, 
and these baskets he made for me. Indeed, he's a most 
industrious, ingenious, good-natured youth ; and our Lucy takes 
no offence at his courting her now, my lady, I can assure you. 
That necklace, which is never off her neck now, he turned for 

250 



' Onr Ltof takano offitia bI hit amriing hernoa, iny lady, / can aimrt yim.' 



BELINDA 

her, my lady ; it is a present of his. So I tell him he need 
not be discouraged, though so be she did not take to him at 
the first ; for she's a good girl, and a sensible girl — I say it, 
though she's my own ; and the eyes are used to a face after a 
time, and then it's nothing. They say, fancy's all in all in love : 
now in my judgment, fancy's little or nothing with girls that 
have sense. But I beg pardon for prating at this rate, more 
especially when I am so old as to have forgot all the little I 
ever knew about such things.' 

< But you have the best right in the world to speak about 
such things, and your granddaughter has the best reason in 
the world to listen to you,' said Lady Anne, * because, in spite 
of all the crosses of fortune, you have been an excellent and 
happy wife, at least ever since I can remember.' 

* And ever since I can remember, that's more ; no offence 
to your ladyship,' said the old man, striking his crutch against 
the ground. * Ever since I can remember, she has made me 
the happiest man in the whole world, in the whole parish, as 
everybody knows, and I best of all ! ' cried he, with a degree 
of enthusiasm that lighted up his aged countenance, and 
animated his feeble voice. 

*And yet,' said the honest dame, *if I had followed my 
fancy, and taken up with my first love, it would not ha' been 
with he^ Lucy. I had a sort of a fancy (since my lady's so 
good as to let me speak), I had a sort of a fancy for an idle 
young man ; but he, very luckily for me, took it into his head 
to fall in love with another young woman, and then I had 
leisure enough left me to think of your grandfather, who was 
not so much to my taste like at first. But when I found out 
his goodness and cleverness, and joined to all, his great 
tenderness for me, I thought better of it, Lucy (as who knows 
but you may do, though there shall not be a word said on my 
part to press you, for poor Jackson ?) ; and my thinking better 
is the cause why I have been so happy ever since, and am so 
still in my old age. Ah, Lucy ! dear, what a many years that 
same old age lasts, after all ! But young folks, for the most 
part, never think what's to come after thirty or forty at farthest. 
But I don't say this for you, Lucy ; for you are a good girl, 
and a sensible girl, though my own granddaughter, as I said 
before, and therefore won't be run away with by fancy, which 
is soon past and gone : but make a prudent choice, that you 

252 



A DECLARATION 

won't never have cause to repent of. But Vl\ not say a word 
more ; Til leave it all to yourself and James Jackson.' 

*You do right,' said Lady Anne : * good -morning to you I 
Farewell, Lucyl That's a pretty necklace, and is very be- 
coming to you — fare ye well ! ' 

She hurried out of the cottage with Belinda, apprehensive 
that the talkative old dame might weaken the effect of her 
good sense and experience by a farther profusion of words. 

< One would think,' said Belinda, with an ingenuous smile, 
* that this lesson upon the dangers of fancy was intended for 
me : at any rate, I may turn it to my own advantage 1 ' 

* Happy those who can turn all the experience of others to 
their own advantage ! ' said Lady Anne : * this would be a 
more valuable privilege than the power of turning everything 
that is touched to gold.' 

They walked on in silence for a few minutes ; and then 
Miss Portman, pursuing the train of her own thoughts, and 
unconscious that she had not explained them to Lady Anne, 
abruptly exclaimed, * But if I should be entangled, so as not 
to be able to retract ! — and if it should not be in my power to 
love him at last, he will think me a coquette, a jilt, perhaps : 
he will have reason to complain of me, if I waste his time, and 
trifle with his affections. Then is it not better that I should 
avoid, by a decided refusal, all possibility of injury to Mr. 
Vincent, and of blame to myself? ' 

* There is no danger of Mr. Vincent's misunderstanding or 
misrepresenting you. The risk that he runs is by his voluntary 
choice ; and I am sure that if, after farther acquaintance with 
him, you find it impossible to return his affection, he will not 
consider himself as ill-used by your refusal.' 

* But after a certain time — after the world suspects that two 
people are engaged to each other, it is scarcely possible for the 
woman to recede : when they come within a certain distance, 
they are pressed to unite, by the irresistible force of external 
circumstances. A woman is too often reduced to this 
dilemma : either she must marry a man she does not love, or 
she must be blamed by the world — either she must sacrifice a 
portion of her reputation, or the whole of her happiness.' 

'The world is indeed often too curious and too rash in 
these affairs,' said Lady Anne. *A young woman is not in 
this respect allowed sufficient time for freedom of deliberation. 

253 



BELINDA 

She sees, as Mr. Percival once said, "the drawn sword of 
tyrant custom suspended over her head by a single hair." ' 

*And yet, notwithstanding you are so well aware of the 
danger, your ladyship would expose me to it ? ' said Belinda. 

' Yes ; for I think the chance of happiness, in this instance, 
overbalances the risk,' said Lady Anne. ' As we cannot alter 
the common law of custom, and as we cannot render the 
world less gossiping, or less censorious, we must not expect 
always to avoid censure ; all we can do is, never to deserve it 
— and it would be absurd to enslave ourselves to the opinion 
of the idle and ignorant. To a certain point, respect for the 
opinion of the world is prudence; beyond that point, it is 
weakness. You should also consider that the world at Oakly 
Park and in London are two different worlds* In London if 
you and Mr. Vincent were seen often in each other's company, 
it would be immediately buzzed about that Miss Portman and 
Mr. Vincent were going to be married ; and if the match did 
not take place, a thousand foolish stories might be told to 
account for its being broken off. But here you are not sur- 
rounded by busy eyes and busy tongues. The butchers, 
bakers, ploughmen, and spinsters, who compose our world, 
have all affairs of their own to mind. Besides, their comments 
can have no very extensive circulation ; they are used to see 
Mr. Vincent continually here; and his staying with us the 
remainder of the autumn will not appear to them anything 
wonderful or portentous.' 

Their conversation was interrupted. Mr. Vincent returned 
to Oakly Park — but upon the express condition that he should 
not make his attachment public by any particular attentions, 
and that he should draw no conclusions in his favour from 
Belinda's consenting to converse with him freely upon every 
common subject. To this treaty of amity Lady Anne Percival 
was guarantee. 



254 



A WEDDING 



CHAPTER XIX 

A WEDDING 

Belinda and Mr. Vincent could never agree in their definition 
of the word flattery; so that there were continual complaints 
on the one hand of a breach of treaty, and, on the other, 
solemn protestations of the most scrupulous adherence to his 
compact. However this might be, it is certain that the gentle- 
man gained so much, either by truth or fiction, that, in the 
course of some weeks, he got the lady as far as * gratitude and 
esteem.' 

One evening, Belinda was playing with little Charles 
Percival at spillikins. Mr. Vincent, who found pleasure in 
everything that amused Belinda, and Mr. Percival, who took 
an interest in everything which entertained his children, were 
looking on at this simple game. 

* Mr. Percival,' said Belinda, * condescending to look at a 
game of jack-straws !' 

* Yes,' said Lady Anne ; * for he is of Dryden's opinion, 
that, if a straw can be made the instrument of happiness, he is 
a wise man who does not despise it.' 

* Ah 1 Miss Portman, take care ! ' cried Charles, who was 
anxious that she should win, though he was playing against 
her. * Take care ! don't touch that knave.' 

* I would lay a hundred guineas upon the steadiness of Miss 
Portman's hand,' cried Mr. Vincent. 

* I'll lay you sixpence, though,' cried Charles eagerly, * that 
she'll stir the king, if she touches that knave — I'll lay you a 
shilling.' 

* Done ! done ! ' cried Mr. Vincent. 

* Done ! done ! ' cried the boy, stretching out his hand, but 
his father caught it. 

* Softly ! softly, Charles ! — No betting, if you please, my 
dear. Done and done sometimes ends in — undone.' 

* It was my fault — it was I who was in the wrong,' cried 
Vincent immediately. 

* I am sure you are in the right, now,' said Mr. Percival ; 

255 



BELINDA 

* and, what is better than my saying so, Miss Portman thinks 
so, as her smile tells me.* 

* You moved, Miss Portman! ' cried Charles : — *0h, indeed ! 
the king's head stirred, the very instant papa spoke. I knew 
it was impossible that you could get that knave clear ofF 
without shaking the king. Now, papa, only look how they 
were balanced.' 

* I grant you,' said Mr. Vincent, * I should have made an 
imprudent bet. So it is well I made none ; for now I see the 
chances were ten to one, twenty to one, a hundred to one against 
me.' 

* It does not appear to me to be a matter of chance,' said 
Mr. Percival. *This is a game of address, not chance, and 
that is the reason I like it.' 

* Oh, papa 1 Oh, Miss Portman ! look how nicely these are 
balanced. There 1 my breath has set them in motion. Look, 
they shake, shake, shake, like the great rocking -stones at 
Brimham Crags.' 

* That is comparing small things to great, indeed ! ' said 
Mr. Percival. 

* By the bye,' cried Mr. Vincent, * Miss Portman has never 
seen those wonderful rocking-stones — suppose we were to ride 
to see them to-morrow ? ' 

The proposal was warmly seconded by the children, and 
agreed to by every one. It was settled, that after they had 
seen Brimham Crags they should spend the remainder of the 
day at Lord C *s beautiful place in the neighbourhood. 

The next morning was neither too hot nor too cold, and 
they set out on their little party of pleasure ; the children went 
with their mother, to their great delight, in the sociable; and 
Mr. Vincent, to his great delight, rode with Belinda. When 
they came within sight of the Crags, Mr. Percival, who was 
riding with them, exclaimed — *What is that yonder, on the 
top of one of the great rocking-stones ? ' 

* It looks like a statue,' said Vincent. * It has been put up 
since we were here last' 

* I fancy it has got up of itself,' said Belinda, * for it seems 
to be getting down of itself. I think I saw it stoop. Oh 1 I 
see now, it is a man who has got up there, and he seems to 
have a gun in his hand, has not he 1 He is going through his 
manual exercise for his diversion — for the diversion of the 

256 



A WEDDING 

spectators below, I perceive — there is a party of people looking 
at him.' 

* Him ! ' said Mr. Percival. 

* I protest it is a woman ! ' said Vincent. 

* No, surely,* said Belinda : * it cannot be a woman I ' 

* Not unless it be Mrs. Freke,' replied Mr. Percival. 

In fact it was Mrs Freke, who had been out shooting with 
a party of gentlemen, and who had scrambled upon this rocking- 
stone, on the summit of which she went through the manual 
exercise at the word of command from her officer. As they 
rode nearer to the scene of action, Belinda heard the shrill 
screams of a female voice, and they descried amongst the 
gentlemen a slight figure in a riding habit. 

* Miss Moreton, I suppose,' said Mr. Vincent. 

* Poor girl I what are they doing with her ? ' cried Belinda. 

* They seem to be forcing her up to the top of that place, 
where she has no mind to go. Look how Mrs. Freke drags 
her up by the arm 1 ' 

As they drew nearer, they heard Mrs. Freke laughing loud 
as she rocked this frightened girl upon the top of the stone. 

* We had better keep out of the way, I think,' said Belinda : 
*for perhaps, as she has vowed vengeance against me, 
she might take a fancy to setting me upon that pinnacle of 
glory.' 

* She dare not,' cried Vincent, his eyes flashing with anger: 

* you may trust to us to defend you.' 

* Certainly ! — But I will not run into danger on purpose to 
give you the pleasure of defending me,' said Belinda ; and as 
she spoke, she turned her horse another way. 

* You won't turn back, Miss Portman ? ' cried Vincent 
eagerly, laying his hand on her bridle. — *Good Heavens, 
ma'am ! we can't run away I — ^We came here to look at these 
rocking-stones ! — We have not half seen them. Lady Anne 
and the children will be here immediately. You would not 
deprive them of the pleasure of seeing these things 1 ' 

* I doubt whether they would have much pleasure in seeing 
same of these things I and as to the rest, if I disappoint the 
children now, Mr. Percival will, perhaps, have the goodness to 
bring them some other day.' 

* Certainly,' said Mr. Percival : * Miss Portman shows her 
usual prudence.' 

s 257 



BELINDA 

* The children are so good tempered, that I am sure they 
will forgive me,* continued Belinda ; * and Mr. Vincent will be 
ashamed not to follow their example, though he seems to be 
rather angry with me at present for obliging him to turn back 
— out of the path of danger.' 

* You must not be surprised at that,' said Mr. Percival, 
laughing ; * for Mr. Vincent is a lover and a hero. You know 
it is a ruled case, in all romances, that when a lover and his 
mistress go out riding together, some adventure must befal 
them. The horse must run away with the lady, and the gentle- 
man must catch her in his arms just as her neck is about to be 
broken. If the horse has been too well trained for the heroine's 
purpose, " some footpad, bandit fierce, or mountaineer," some 
jealous rival must make his appearance quite unexpectedly at 
the turn of a road, and the lady must be carried off — robes 
flying — ^hair streaming — like Buerger's Leonora. Then her 
lover must come to her rescue just in the proper moment. But 
if the damsel cannot conveniently be run away with, she must, 
as the last resource, tumble into a river to make herself inter- 
esting, and the hero must be at least half drowned in dragging 
her out, that she may be under eternal obligations to him, and 
at last be forced to marry him out of pure gratitude.' 

* Gratitude 1 ' interrupted Mr. Vincent : ' he is no hero, to 
my mind, who would be content with gratitude, instead of 
love.' 

* You need not alarm yourself : Miss Portman does not seem 
inclined to put you to the trial, you see,' said Mr. Percival, 
smiling. * Now it is really to be regretted that she deprived 
you of an opportunity of fighting some of the gentlemen in 
Mrs. Freke's train, or of delivering her from the perilous height 
of one of those rocking-stones. It would have been a new 
incident in a novel.' 

* How that poor girl screamed ! ' said Belinda. * Was her 
terror real or affected ? ' 

* Partly real, partly affected, I fancy,' said Mr. Percival. 

* I pity her,' said Mr. Vincent ; * for Mrs. Freke leads her 
a weary life.' 

* She is certainly to be pitied, but also to be blamed,' said 
Mr. Percival. * You do not know her history. Miss Moreton 

\ ran away from her friends to live with this Mrs. Freke, who 
has led her into all kinds of mischief and absurdity. The girl 

258 



A WEDDING 

is weak and vain, and believes that everything becomes her 
which Mrs. Freke assures her is becoming. At one time she 
was persuaded to go to a public ball with her arms as bare as 
Juno's and her feet as naked as Mad. Tallien's. At another 
time Miss More ton (who unfortunately has never heard the 
Greek proverb, that half is better than the whole) was persuaded 
by Mrs. Freke to lay aside her half boots, and to equip herself 
in men's whole boots ; and thus she rode about the country, to 
the amazement of all the world. These are trifles ; but women 
who love to set the world at defiance in trifles seldom respect 
its opinion in matters of consequence. Miss Moreton's whole 
boots in the morning, and her bare feet in the evening, were 
talked of by everybody, till she gave them more to talk of about 
her attachment to a young officer. Mrs. Freke, whose philo- 
sophy is professedly latitudinarian in morals, laughed at the 
girPs prejudice in favour of the ceremony of marriage. So did 
the officer, for Miss Moreton had no fortune. It is suspected 
that the young lady did not feel the difficulty, which philo- 
sophers are sometimes said to find in suiting their practice to 
their theory. The unenlightened world reprobated the theory 
much, and the practice more. I am inclined, in spite of scandal, 
to think the poor girl was only imprudent : at all events, she 
repents her folly too late. She has now no friend upon earth 
but Mrs. Freke, who is, in fact, her worst enemy, and who 
tyrannises over her without mercy. Imagine what it is to be 
the butt of a buffoon ! ' 

* What a lesson to young ladies in the choice of female 
friends ! ' said Belinda. * But had Miss Moreton no rela- 
tions, who could interfere to get her out of Mrs. Freke' s 
hands ? ' 

* Her father and mother were old, and, what is more con- 
temptible, old-fashioned : she would not listen to their advice ; 
she ran away from them. Some of her relations were, I 
believe, willing that she should stay with Mrs. Freke, because 
she was a dashing, fashionable woman, and they thought it 
might be what is called an advantage to her. She had one 
relation, indeed, who was quite of a different opinion, who saw 
the danger of her situation, and remonstrated in the strongest 
manner — but to no purpose. This was a cousin of Miss 
Moreton's, a respectable clergyman. . Mrs. Freke was so 
much incensed by his insolent interference^ as she was pleased 

259 



BELINDA 

to call it, that she made an effigy of Mr. Moreton dressed in 
his canonicals, and hung the figure up as a scarecrow in a 
garden close by the high road. He was so much beloved and 
respected for his benevolence and unaffected piety, that Mrs. 
Freke totally failed in her design of making him ridiculous ; 
her scarecrow was torn to pieces by his parishioners ; and 
though, in the true spirit of charity, he did all he could to 
moderate their indignation against his enemy, the lady became 
such an object of detestation, that she was followed with hisses 
and groans whenever she appeared, and she dared not venture 
within ten miles of the village. 

* Mrs. Freke now changed the mode of her persecution : she 
was acquainted with a nobleman from whom our clergyman ex- 
pected a living, and she worked upon his lordship so successfully, 
that he insisted upon having an apology made to the lady. Mr. 
Moreton had as much dignity of mind as gentleness of character ; 
his forbearance was that of principle, and so was his firmness : 
he refused to make the concessions that were required. His 
noble patron bullied. Though he had a large family to pro- 
vide for, the clergyman would not degrade himself by any 
improper submission. The incumbent died, and the living was 
given to a more compliant friend. So ends the history of one 
of Mrs. Freke's numerous frolics.' 

* This was the story,' said Mr. Vincent, * which effectually 
changed my opinion of her. Till I heard it, I always looked 
upon her as one of those thoughtless, good-natured people, 
who, as the com|3ion saying is, do nobody any harm but 
themselves.' 

* It is difficult in society,' said Mr. Percival, * especially for 
women, to do harm to themselves, without doing harm to 
others. They may begin in frolic, but they must end in 
malice. They defy the world — the world in return excommimi- 
cates them — the female outlaws become desperate, and make 
it the business and pride of their lives to disturb the peace of 
their sober neighbours. Women who have lowered themselves 
in the public opinion cannot rest without attempting to bring 
others to their own level' 

* Mrs. Freke, notwithstanding the blustering merriment that 
she affects, is obviously unhappy,' said Belinda; *and since 
we cannot do her any good, either by our blame or our pity, 
we had better think of something else.' 

260 



A WEDDING 

* ScandaV said Mr. Vincent, * does not seem to give you 
much pleasure, Miss Portman. You will be glad to hear that 
Mrs. Freke's malice against poor Mr. Moreton has not ruined 
him. Do you know, Mr. Percival, that he has just been pre- 
sented to a good living by a generous young man, who heard 
of his excellent conduct ? * 

* I am extremely glad of it,' said Mr. Percival. * Who is 
this generous young man? I should like to be acquainted 
with him.' 

* So should I,' said Mr. Vincent : * he is a Mr. Hervey.' 

* Clarence Hervey, perhaps ? ' 

* Yes, Clarence was his name.' 

* No man more likely to do a generous action than Clarence 
Hervey,' said Mr. Percival. 

'Nobody more likely to do a generous action than Mr. 
Hervey,' repeated Belinda, in rather a low tone. She could 
now prajse Clarence Hervey without blushing, and she could 
think even of his generosity without partiality, though not with- 
out pleasure. By strength of mind, and timely exertion, she , 
had prevented her prepossession from growing into a passion '. 
that might have made her miserable. Proud of this conquest 
over herself, she was now disposed to treat Mr. Vincent with 
more favour than usual. Self-complacency generally puts us 
in good humour with our friends. 

After spending some pleasant hours in Lord C 's beauti- 
ful grounds, where the children explored to their satisfaction 
every dingle and bushy dell, they returned home in the cool of 
the evening. Mr. Vincent thought it the most delightful 
evening he had ever felt. 

* What ! as charming as a West Indian evening ? ' said Mr. 
Percival. *This is more than I expected ever to hear you 
acknowledge in favour of England. Do you remember how you 
used to rave of thje climate and of the prospects of Jamaica ? ' 

* Yes, but my taste has quite changed.' 

* I remember the time,' said Mr. Percival, * when you 
thought it impossible that your taste should ever change ; when 
you told me that taste, whether for the beauties of animate or 
inanimate nature, was immutable.' 

* You and Miss Portman have taught me better sense. First 
loves are generally silly things,' added he, colouring a little. 
Belinda coloured also. 

261 



BELINDA 

* First loves,' continued Mr. Percival, * are not necessarily 
more foolish than others ; but the chances are certainly against 
them. From poetry or romance, young people usually form 
their earlier ideas of love, before they have actually felt the 
passion ; and the image which they have in their own minds of 
the beau ideal is cast upon the first objects they afterward be- 
hold. This, if I may be allowed the expression, is Cupid's 
Fata Morgana. Deluded mortals are in ecstasy whilst the 
illusion lasts, and in despair when it vanishes.' 

Mr. Percival appeared to be unconscious that what he was 
saying was any way applicable to Belinda. He addressed 
himself to Mr. Vincent solely, and she listened at her ease. 

* But,' said she, * do not you think that this prejudice, as I 
am willing to allow it to be, in favour of first loves, may in our 
sex be advantageous ? Even when a woman may be convinced 
that she ought not to indulge a first love, should she not be 
prevented by delicacy from thinking of a second ? ' 

* Delicacy, my dear Miss Portman, is a charming word, and 
a still more charming thing, and Mrs. Freke has probably 
increased our affection for it ; but even delicacy, like all other 
virtues, must be judged of by the test of utility. We should 
run into romance, and error, and misery, if we did not con- 
stantly refer to this standard. Our reasonings as to the conduct 
of life, as far as moral prudence is concerned, must depend 
ultimately upon facts. Now, of the numbers of people in this 
world, how many do you think have married their first loves ? 
Probably not one out of ten. Then, would you have nine out 
of ten pine all their lives in celibacy, or fret in matrimony, 
because they cannot have the persons who first struck their 
fancy f^ 

* I acknowledge this would not add to the happiness of 
society,' said Belinda. 

* Nor to its virtue,' said Mr. Percival. * I scarcely know an 
idea more dangerous to domestic happiness than this belief in 
the unextinguishable nature of a first flame. There are people 
who would persuade us that, though it may be smothered for 
years, it must break out at last, and blaze with destructive fury. 
Pernicious doctrine ! false as it is pernicious ! — The struggles 
between duty and passion may be the charm of romance, but 
must be the misery of real life. The woman who marries one 
man, and loves another, who, in spite of all that an amiable and 

262 



A WEDDING 

estimable husband can do to win her confidence and affection, 
nourishes in secret s. fatal prepossession for her first love, may 
perhaps, by the eloquence of a fine writer, be made an interest- 
ing heroine ; — but would any man of sense or feeling choose to 
be troubled with such a wife ? — Would not even the idea that 
women admired such conduct necessarily tend to diminish our 
confidence, if not in their virtue, at least in their sincerity ? 
And would not this suspicion destroy our happiness ? Husbands 
may sometimes have delicate feelings as well as their wives, 
though they are seldom allowed to have any by these unjust 
novel writers. Now, could a husband who has any delicacy be 
content to possess the person without the mind ? — the duty with- 
out the love ? — Could he be perfectly happy, ifi in the fondest 
moments, he might doubt whether he were an object of disgust 
or affection ? — whether the smiles of apparent joy were only the 
efforts of a suffering martyr ? — Thank Heaven I I am not 
married to one of these charming martyrs. Let those live with 
them who admire them. For my part, I admire and love the 
wife, who not only seems but is happy — as I,' added Mr. Per- 
civ^, smiling, * have the fond credulity to believe. If I have 
spoken too long or too warmly upon the chapter of Jirst loves^ 
I have at least been a perfectly disinterested declaimer ; for I 
can assure you, Miss Portman, that I do not suspect Lady Anne 
Percival of sighing in secret for some vision of perfection, any 
more than she suspects me of pining for the charming Lady 
Delacour, who, perhaps, you may have heard was ray first love. 
In these days, however, so few people marry with even the 
pretence to love of any sort, that you will think I might have 
spared this tirade. No ; there are ingenuous minds which will 
never be enslaved by fashion or interest, though they may be 
exposed to be deceived by romance, or by the delicacy of their 
own imaginations.' 

< I hear,' said Belinda, smiling, * I hear and understand the 
emphasis with which you pronounce that word delicacy, I see 
you have not forgotten that I used it improperly half an hour 
ago, as you have convinced me.' 

* Happy they,' said Mr. Percival, * who can be convinced in 
half an hour ! There are some people who cannot be con- 
vinced in a whole life, and who end where they began, with 
saying — " This is my opinion — I always thought so, and always 
shall." ' 

263 



BELINDA 

Mr. Vincent at all times loved Mr. Percival ; but he never 
felt so much affection for him as he did this evening, and his 
arguments appeared to him unanswerable. Though Belinda 
had never mentioned to Mr. Vincent the name of Clarence 
Hervey till this day, and though he did not in the least sus- 
pect from her manner that this gentleman ever possessed any 
interest in her heart ; yet, with her accustomed sincerity, she 
had confessed to him that an impression had been made upon 
her mind before she came to Oakly Park. 

After this conversation with Mr. Percival, Mr. Vincent 
perceived that he gained ground more rapidly in her favour ; 
and his company grew every day more agreeable to her taste : 
he was convinced that, as he possessed her esteem, he should 
in time secure her aifections. 

* In time,' repeated Lady Anne Percival : * you must allow 
her time, or you will spoil all.' 

It was with some difficulty that Mr. Vincent restrained his 
impatience, even though he was persuaded of the prudence of 
his friend's advice. Things went on in this happy, but as he 
thought slow, state of progression till towards the latter end of 
September. 

One fine morning Lady Anne Percival came into Belinda's 
room with a bridal favour in her hand. * Do you know,' said 
she, * that we are to have a wedding to-day ? This favour has 
just been sent to my maid. Lucy, the pretty girl whom you 
may remember to have seen some time ago with that prettily 
turned necklace, is the bride, and James Jackson is the bride- 
groom. Mr. Vincent has let them a very pretty little farm 
in the neighbourhood, and — hark ! there's the soimd of 
music' 

They looked out of the window, and they saw a troop of 
villagers, gaily dressed, going to the wedding. Lady Anne, 
who was always eager to promote innocent festivity, sent 
immediately to have a tent pitched in the park ; and all the 
rural company were invited to a dance in the evening : it was 
a very cheerful spectacle. Belinda heard from all sides praises 
of Mr. Vincent's generosity ; and she could not be insensible 
to the simple but enthusiastic testimony which Juba bore to his 
master's goodness. Juba had composed, in his broken dialect, 
a little song in honour of his master, which he sang to his 
banjore with the most touching expression of joyful gratitude, 

264 



A WEDDING 

In some of the stanzas Belinda could distinguish that her own 
name was frequently repeated. Lady Anne called him, and 
desired to have the words of this song. They were a mixture 
of English and of his native language ; they described in the 
strongest manner what had been his feelings whilst he was 
under the terror of Mrs. Freke's fiery obeah-woman, then his 
joy on being relieved from these horrors, with the delightful 
sensations of returning health; — and thence he suddenly 
passed to his gratitude to Belinda, the person to whom he 
owed his recovery. He concluded with wishing her all sorts of 
happiness, and, above all, that she might be fortunate in her 
love ; which Juba thought the highest degree of felicity. He 
had no sooner finished his song, which particularly touched 
and pleased Miss Portman, than he begged his master to offer 
to her the little instrument, which he had made with much 
pains and ingenuity. She accepted the banjore with a smile 
that enchanted Mr. Vincent ; but at this instant they were 
startled by the sound of a carriage driving rapidly into the 
park. Belinda looked up, and between the heads of the 
dancers she just caught a glimpse of a well-known livery. 
* Good Heavens 1 ' she exclaimed, * Lady Delacour's carriage ! 
— Can it be Lady Delacour ? ' 

The carriage stopped, and Marriott hastily jumped out of it. 
Belinda pressed forward to meet her; poor Marriott was in 
g^eat agitation : — * O Miss Portman ! my poor lady is very 
ill — very ill, indeed. She has sent me for you — here's her 
letter. Dear Miss Portman, I hope you won't refuse to come ; 
she hcts been very iU, and is very ill ; but she would be better, 
if she could see you again. But Pll tell everything, ma'am, 
when we are by ourselves, and when you have read your 
letter.' 

Miss Portman inunediately accompanied Marriott towards 
the house ; and as they walked thither, she learned that Lady 
Delacour had applied to the quack-doctor in whom she had 
such implicit faith, and had in vain endeavoured to engage him 
to perform for her the operation to which she had determined 
to submit He was afraid to hazard it, and he prevailed upon 
her to give up the scheme, and to try some new external 
remedy from which he promised wonders. No one knew what 
his medicines were, but they affected her head in the most 
alarming manner. 

265 



BELINDA 

In her delirium she called frequently upon Miss Portman ; 
sometimes accusing her of the basest treachery, sometimes 
addressing her as if she were present, and pouring forth the 
warmest expressions of friendship. * In her lucid intervals, 
ma'am,' continued Marriott, * she for some weeks scarcely ever 
mentioned your name, nor could bear to hear me mention it. 
One day, when I was saying how much I wished that you were 
with her again, she darted at me the most terrible look that 
ever I beheld. 

* " When I am in my grave, Marriott," cried my lady, " it 
will be time enough for Miss Portman again to visit this house, 
and you may then express your attachment to her with more 
propriety than at present." These were my lady's own words 
— I shall never forget them : they struck and astonished me, 
ma'am, so much, I stood like one stupefied, and then left the 
room to think them over again by myself, and make sense of 
them, if I could. Well, ma'am, to be sure, it then struck 
me like a flash of lightning, that my lady was jealous — and, 
begging your pardon, ma'am — of you. This seemed to me 
the most unnatural thing in the world, considering how easy 
my lady had always seemed to be about my lord ; but it was 
now clear to me, that this was the cause of your leaving us so 
suddenly, ma'am. Well, I was confident that Mr. Champfort 
was at the bottom of the business from the first ; and now that 
I knew what scent to go upon, I went to work with fresh spirit 
to find him out, which was a thing I was determined upon — 
and what I'm determined upon, I generally do, ma'am. So I 
put together things about Miss Portman and my lord, that had 
dropped at odd times from Sir Philip Baddel/s gentleman ; 
and I, partly serious and partly flirting, which in a good cause 
is no sin, drew from him (for he pretends to be a little an 
admirer of mine, ma'am, though I never gave him the smallest 
encouragment) all he knew or suspected, or had heard reported, 
or whispered ; and out it came, ma'am, that Mr. Champfort 
was the original of all ; and that he had told a heap of lies 
about some banknotes that my lord had given you, and that 
you and my lord were to be married as soon as my lady was 
dead ; and I don't know what, which he maliciously circulated 
through Sir Philip's gentleman to Sir Philip himself, and so 
round again to my lady. Now, Sir Philip's man behaved like 
a gentleman upon the occasion, which I shall ever be free to 

266 



A WEDDING 

acknowledge and remember : and when I represented things 
properly, and made him sensible of the mischief, which, he 
assured me, was done purely with an eye to ^erve Sir Philip, 
his master, he very candidly offered to assist me to immask 
that villain Champfort, which he could easily do with the 
assistance of a few bottles of claret, and a few fair words ; 
which, though I can't abide hypocrisy, I thought quite allowable 
upon such an occasion. So, ma'am, when Mr. Champfort was 
thrown off his guard by the claret. Sir Philip's gentleman 
began to talk of my lord and my lady, and Miss Portman ; 
and he observed that my lord and my lady were coming 
together more than they used to be since Miss Portman left 
the house. To which Champfort replied with an oath, like an 
unmannered reprobate as he is, and in his gibberish, French 
and English, which I can't speak ; but the sense of it was this : 
— " My lord and lady shall never come together, if I can help 
it. It was to hinder this I got Miss Portman banished ; for 
my lord was quite another man after she got Miss Helena into 
the house ; and I don't doubt but he might have been brought 
to leave off his burgundy, and set up for a sober, regular man ; 
which would not suit me at all. If my lady once was to get 
power over him again, I might go whistle — so (with another 
reprobate oath) my lord and my lady shall never come together 
again whilst I live." 

*Well, ma'am,' continued Marriott, *as soon as I was in 
possession of this precious speech, I carried it and a letter of 
Sir Philip Baddely's gentleman vouching it to my lady. My 
lady was thunderstruck, and so vexed to have been, as she 
said, a dupe, that she sent for my lord directly, and insisted 
upon his giving up Mr. Champfort. My lord demurred, 
because my lady spoke so high, and said insist. He would 
have done it, I'm satisfied, of his own accord with the greatest 
pleasure, if my lady had not, as it were, commanded it. But 
he answered at last, " My Lady Delacour, I'm not a man 
to be governed by a wife — I shall keep or part with my own 
servants in my own house, according to my own pleasure " ; 
and saying so, he left the room. I never saw my lady so 
angry as she was at this refusal of my lord to part with him. 
The house was quite in a state of distraction for some days. 
I never would sit down to the same table, ma'am, with Mr. 
Champfort, nor speak to him, nor look at him, and parties ran 

267 



high above and below stairs. And at last my lady, who had 
been getting better, took to her bed again with a nervous 
fever, which brought her almost to death's door j she having 



' My lord ami lady shsU narr ami tsgltlur. if I can klip «.' 

been so much weakened before by the quack medicines and 
convulsions, and all her sufferings in secret. She would not 
see my lord on no account, and Champfort persuaded him her 
illness was pretence, to bring him to her purpose ; which was 



A WEDDING 

the more readily believed, because nobody was ever let into 
my lady's bedchamber but myself. All this time she never 
mentioned your name, ma'am ; but once, when I was sitting 
by her bedside, as she was asleep, she started suddenly, and 
cried out, " O my dearest Belinda ! are you come back to 
me ? " — She awakened herself with the start ; and raising her- 
self quite up in her bed, she pulled back the curtains, and 
looked all round the room. I'm sure she expected to see you; 
and when she found it was a dream, she gave a heavy sigh, 
and sank down upon her pillow. I then could not forbear to 
speak, and this time my lady was greatly touched when I 
mentioned your name ; — she shed tears, ma'am ; and you 
know it is not a little thing that can draw tears from my lady. 
But when I said something about sending for you, she 
answered, she was sure you would not return to her, and that 
she would never condescend to ask a favour in vain, even from 
you. Then I replied that I was sure you loved her still, and 
as well as ever: and that the proof of that was, that Mrs. 
Luttridge and Mrs. Freke together, by all their wiles, could 
not draw you over to their party at Harrowgate, and that you 
had affronted Mrs. Freke by defending her ladyship. My lady 
was all surprise at this, and eagerly asked how I came to know 
it. Now, ma'am, I had it all by a post letter from Mrs. 
Luttridge's maid, who is my cousin, and knows everything 
that's going on. My lady from this moment forward could 
scarce rest an instant without wishing for you, and fretting for 
you as I knew by her manner. One day my lord met me on 
the stairs as I was coming down from my poor lady's room, 
and he asked me how she was, and why she did not send for 
a physician. "The best physician, my lord, she could send 
for," said I, " would be Miss Portman ; for she'll never be well 
till that good young lady comes back again, in my humble 
opinion." 

* " And what should prevent that good young lady from 
coming back again ? Not I, surely," rejoined my lord, " for I 
wish she were here with all my heart." 

* " It is not easy to suppose, my lord," said I, " after all 
that has passed, that the young lady would choose to return, 
or that my lady would ask her, whilst Mr. Champfort remains 
paramount in the house." "If that's all," cried my lord, " tell 
your lady I'll part with Champfort upon the spot ; for the 

269 



BELINDA 

rascal has just had the insolence to insist upon it, that a pair 
of new boots are not too tight for me, when I said they were. 
I'll show him I can be master, and will, in my own house." 
Ma'am, my heart leaped for joy within me at hearing these 
words, and I ran up to my lady with them. I easily concluded 
in my own mind, that my lord was glad of the pretence of the 
boots, to give up handsomely after his standing out so long. 
To be sure, my lord's mightily jealous of being master, and 
mighty fond of his own way ; but I forgive him everything for 
doing as I would have him at last, and dismissing that prince 
of mischief-makers, Mr. Champfort. My lady called for her 
writing-desk directly, and sat up in her bed, and with her 
trembling hand, as you see by the writing, ma'am, wrote a 
letter to you as fast as ever she could, and the postchaise was 
ordered. I don't know what fancy seized her — but if you 
remember, ma'am, the hammer-cloth to her new carriage had 
orange and black fringe at first : she would not use it, till this 
had been changed to blue and white. Well, ma'am, she recol- 
lected this on a sudden, as I was getting ready to come for 
you ; and she set the servants at work directly to take off the 
blue and white, and put on the black and orange fringe again, 
which she said must be done before your coming. And my 
lady ordered her own footman to ride along with me ; and I 
have come post, and have travelled night and day, and will 
never rest till I get back. But, ma'am, I won't keep you any 
longer from reading your letter, only to say, that I hope to 
Heaven you will not refuse to return to my poor lady, if it be 
only to put her mind at ease before she dies. She cannot 
have long to live.' 

As Marriott finished these words they reached the house, 
and Belinda went to her own room to read Lady Delacour's 
letter. It contained none of her customary Eloquence du 
billet^ no sprightly wit, no real, no affected gaiety ; her mind 
seemed to be exhausted by bodily suffering, and her high spirit 
subdued. She expressed the most poignant anguish for having 
indulged such unjust suspicions and intemperate passions. 
She lamented having forfeited the esteem and affection of the 
only real friend she had ever possessed — a friend of whose for- 
bearance, tenderness, and fidelity, she had received such indis- 
putable proofs. She concluded by saying, * I feel my end fast 
approaching, and perhaps, Belinda, your humanity will induce 

270 



\ 



RECONCILIATION 

you to grant my last request, and to let me see you once more 
before I die.' 

Belinda immediately decided to return to Lady Delacour — 
though it was with real regret that she thought of leaving Lady 
Anne Percival, and the amiable and happy family to whom she 
had become so much attached. The children crowded round 
her when they heard that she was going, and Mr. Vincent stood 
in silent sorrow — ^but we spare our readers this parting scene. 
Miss Portman promised to return to Oakly Park as soon as she 
possibly could. Mr. Vincent anxiously requested permission 
to follow her to town : but this she positively refused ; and he 
submitted with as good a grace as a lover can submit to any-'' 
thing that crosses his passion. 



CHAPTER XX 

RECONCILIATION 

Aware that her remaining in town at such an unusual season 
of the year would appear unaccountable to her fashionable 
acquaintance. Lady Delacour contrived for herself a character- 
istic excuse ; she declared that there was no possibility of 
finding pleasure in anything but novelty, and that the greatest 
novelty to her would be to remain a whole summer in town. 
Most of her friends, amongst whom she had successfully 
established a character for caprice, were satisfied that this was 
merely some new whim, practised to signalise herself by singu- 
larity. The real reason that detained her was her dependence 
upon the empiric, who had repeatedly visited and constantly 
prescribed for her. Convinced, however, by the dreadful 
situation to which his prescriptions had lately reduced her, 
that he was unworthy of her confidence, she determined to 
dismiss him : but she could not do this, as she had a consider- 
able sum to pay him, till Marriott's return, because she could 
not trust any one but Marriott to let him up the private staircase 
into the boudoir. 

During Marriott's absence, her ladyship suffered no one to 
attend her but a maid who was remarkable for her stupidity. 

271 



BELINDA 

She thought that she could have nothing to fear from this 
girl's spirit of inquiry, for never was any human being so 
destitute of curiosity. It was about noon when Belinda and 
Marriott arrived. Lady Delacour, who had passed a restless 
night, was asleep. When she awoke, she found Marriott 
standing beside her bed. 

* Then it is all in vain, I see,' cried her ladyship ; * Miss 
Portman is not with you ? — Give me my laudanum.' 

* Miss Portman is come, my lady,' said Marriott ; * she is 
in the dressing-room : she would not come in here with me, 
lest she should startle you.' 

* Belinda is come, do you say ? Admirable Belinda ! ' cried 
Lady Delacour, and she clasped her hands with ecstasy. 

* Shall I tell her, my lady, that you are awake ? ' 

*Yes — no — stay — Lord Delacour is at home. I will get 
up immediately. Let my lord be told that I wish to speak 
with him — that I beg he will breakfast with me in my dressing- 
room half an hour hence. I will dress immediately.' 

Marriott in vain represented that she ought not to hurry 
herself in her present weak state. Intent upon her own 
thoughts, she listened to nothing that was said, but frequently 
urged Marriott to be expeditious. She put on an unusual 
quantity of rouge : then looking at herself in the glass, she 
said, with a forced smile, * Marriott, I look so charmingly, that 
Miss Portman, perhaps, will be of Lord Delacour's opinion, 
and think that nothing is the matter with me. Ah ! no ; she 
has been behind the scenes^she knows the truth too well ! 
Marriott, pray did she ask you many questions about me ? — 
Was not she very sorry to leave Oakly Park ? — Were not they 
all extremely concerned to part with her ? — Did she ask after 
Helena? — Did you tell her that I insisted upon my lord's 
parting with Champfort ? ' 

At the word Champfort, Marriott's mouth opened eagerly, 
and she began to answer with her usual volubility. Lady 
Delacour waited not for any reply to the various questions 
which, in the hurry of her mind, she had asked ; but, passing 
swiftly by Marriott, she threw open the door of her dressing- 
room. At the sight of Belinda she stopped short ; and, totally 
overpowered, she would have simk upon the floor, had not 
Miss Portman caught her in her arms, and supported her to a 
sofa. When she came to herself, and heard the soothing tone 

272 



RECONCILIATION 

of Belinda's voice, she looked up timidly in her face for a few 
moments without being able to speak. 

* And are you really here once more, my dear Belinda ? ' 
cried she at last ; * and may I still call you my friend ? — and 
do you forgive me ? — Yes, I see you do — and from you I can 
endure the humiliation of being forgiven. Enjoy the noble 
sense of your own superiority.' 

* My dear Lady Delacour,* said Belinda, * you see all this in 
too strong a light : you have done me no injury — I have 
nothing to forgive.' 

* I cannot see it in too strong a light. — Nothing to forgive 1 
— Yes, you have ; that which it is the most difficult to forgive 
— injustice. Oh, how you must have despised me for the 
folly, the meanness of my suspicions ! Of all tempers that 
which appears to me, and I am sure to you, the most despic- 
able, the most intolerable, is a suspicious temper. Mine was 
once open, generous as your own — you see how the best 
dispositions may be depraved — what am I now ? Fit only 

* To point a moral, or adorn a tale — 

a mismatched, misplaced, miserable, perverted being.' 

* And now you have abused yourself till you are breathless, 
I may have some chance,' said Belinda, 'of being heard in 
your defence. I perfectly agree with you in thinking that a 
suspicious temper is despicable and intolerable ; but there is a 
vast difference between an acute fit of jealousy, as our friend 

Dr. X would say, and a chronic habit of suspicion. The 

noblest natures may be worked up to suspicion by designing 
villany ; and then a handkerchief, or a hammer-cloth, " trifles 
as light as air " ' 

* Oh, my dear, you are too good. But my folly admits of 
no excuse, no palliation,' interrupted Lady Delacour ; * mine 
was jealousy without love.' 

* That indeed would admit of no excuse,' said Belinda ; 
* therefore you will pardon me if I think it incredible — 
especially as I have detected you in feeling something like 
affection for your little daughter, after you had done your best, 
I mean your worst, to make me believe that you were a 
monster of a mother.' 

* That was quite another affair, my dear. I did not know 
Helena was worth loving. I did not imagine my little 

T 273 



BELINDA 

daughter could love me. When I found my mistake, I 
changed my tone. But there is no hope of mistake with my 
poor husband. Your own sense must show you that Lord 
Delacour is not a man to be loved.* 

* That could not always have been your ladyship's opinion,' 
said Belinda, with an arch smile. 

* Lord ! my dear,' said Lady Delacour, a little embarrassed, 
* in the highest paroxysm of my madness, I never suspected 
that you could love Lord Delacour ; I surely only hinted that 
you were in love with his coronet. That was absurd enough 
in all conscience — don't make me more absurd than I am.' 

* Is it then the height of absurdity to love a husband ? ' 

* Love ! Nonsense ! — Impossible 1 — Hush ! here he comes, 
with his odious creaking shoes. What man can ever expect to 
be loved who wears creaking shoes ? ' pursued her ladyship, as 
Lord Delacour entered the room, his shoes creaking at every 
step ; and assuming an air of levity, she welcomed him as a 
stranger to her dressing-room. * No speeches, my lord ! no 
speeches, I beseech you,' cried she, as he was beginning to 
speak to Miss Portman. * Believe me, that explanations 
always make bad worse. Miss Portman is here, thank 
Heaven ! and her ; and Champfort is gone, thank you — or 
your boots. And now let us sit down to breakfast, and forget 
as soon as possible everything that is disagreeable.' 

When Lady Delacour had a mind to banish painful recollec- 
tions, it was scarcely possible to resist the magical influence of 
her conversation and manners ; yet her lord's features never 
relaxed to a smile during this breakfast. He maintained an 
obstinate silence, and a profound solemnity — till at last, rising 
from table, he turned to Miss Portman, and said, * Of all the 
caprices of fine ladies, that which surprises me the most is the 
whim of keeping their beds without being sick. Now, Miss 
Portman, you would hardly suppose that my Lady Delacour, 
who has been so lively this morning, has kept her bed, as I 
am informed, a fortnight — is not this astonishing ? ' 

* Prodigiously astonishing, that my Lord Delacour, like all 
the rest of the world, should be liable to be deceived by appear- 
ances,' cried her ladyship. * Honour me with your attention 
for a few minutes, my lord, and perhaps I may increase your 
astonishment.' 

His lordship, struck by the sudden change of her voice from 

274 



RECONCILIATION 

gaiety to gravity, fixed his eyes upon her and returned to his 
seat. She paused — then addressing herself to Belinda, * My 
incomparable friend,' said she, * I will now give you a convinc- 
ing proof of the unlimited power you have over my mind. My 
lord. Miss Portman has persuaded me to the step which I am 
now going to take. She has prevailed upon me to make a 
decisive trial of your prudence and kindness. She has deter- 
mined me to throw myself on your mercy.* 

* Mercy ! ' repeated Lord Delacour ; and a confused idea, 
that she was now about to make a confession of the justice of 
some of his former suspicions, took possession of his mind : 
he looked aghast. 

*I am going, my lord, to confide to you a secret of the 
utmost importance — a secret which is known to but three 
people in the world — Miss Portman, Marriott, and a man 
whose name I cannot reveal to you.' 

* Stop, Lady Delacour ! ' cried his lordship, with a degree of 
emotion and energy which he had never shown till now : * stop, 
I conjure, I command you, madam ! I am not sufficiently 
master of myself — I once loved you too well to bear such a 
stroke. Trust me with no such secret — say no more — you 
have said enough — too much. I forgive you, that is all I can 
do : but we must part. Lady Delacour ! ' said he, breaking 
from her with agony expressed in his coimtenance.- 

' The man has a heart, a soul, I protest ! You knew him 
better than I did, Miss Portman. Nay, you are not gone yet, 
my lord I You really love me, I find.' 

* No, no, no,' cried he vehemently : * weak as you take me 
to be, Lady Delacour, I am incapable of loving a woman who 
has disgraced me, disgraced herself, her family, her station, 
her high endowments, her ' His utterance failed. 

* O Lady Delacour ! ' cried Belinda, * how can you trifle 
in this manner ? ' 

* I meant not,' said her ladyship, * to trifle : I am satisfied. 
My lord, it is time that you should be satisfied. I can give 
you the most irrefragable proof, that whatever may have been 
the apparent levity of my conduct, you have had no serious 
cause for jealousy. But the proof will shock — disgust you. 
Have you courage to know more ? — Then follow me.' 

He followed her. — Belinda heard the boudoir door unlocked. 
— In a few minutes they returned. — Grief and horror and 

275 



'irit/aitd hcrror attdpity tvt 



I 1 • 



I 



Y/' 






RECONCILIATION ■ ', 

, r •■'■••• 
pity were painted in Lord Delacour's countenance^ as he 
passed hastily through the room. ^^^' 

* My dearest friend, I have taken your advice : would to ^ 
Heaven I had taken it sooner ! ' said Lady Delacour to Miss 
Portman. * I have revealed to Lord Delacour my real situa- 
tion. Poor man ! he was shocked beyond expression. He 

J behaved incomparably welL I am convinced that he would, 

'^ /' as he said, let his hand be cut off to save my life The 

rf.' moment his foolish jealousy was extinguished, his love for me 

Ix/o/V^ revived in full force. Would you believe it? he has promised 

me to break with odious Mrs. Luttridge. Upon my charging 

him to keep my secret from her, he instantly, in the handsomest 

manner in the world, declared he would never see her more, 

rather than give me a moment's uneasiness. How I reproach 

myself for having been for years the torment of this man's life ! ' 

* You may do better than reproach yourself, my dear Lady 
Delacour,' said Belinda ; * you may yet live for years to be the 
blessing and pride of his life. I am persuaded that nothing 
but your despair of obtaining domestic happiness has so long 
enslaved you to dissipation ; and now that you find a friend in 
your husband, now that you know the affectionate temper of 
your little Helena, you will have fresh views and fresh hopes ; 
you will have the courage to live for yourself, and not for what 
is called the world.' 

* The world 1 ' cried Lady Delacour, with a tone of disdain ; 
* how long has that word enslaved a soul formed for higher 
purposes ! ' She paused, and looked up towards heaven with 
an expression of fervent devotion, which Belinda had once, and 
but once, before seen in her countenance. Then, as if forget- 
ful even that Belinda was present, she threw herself upon a 
sofa, and fell, or seemed to fall, into a profound reverie. She 
was roused by the entrance of Marriott, who came into the 
room to ask whether she would now take her laudanum. ' I 
thought I had taken it,' said she in a feeble voice ; and as she 
raised her eyes and saw Belinda, she added, with a faint smile, 
*Miss Portman, I believe, has been laudanum to me this 
morning : but even that will not do long, you see ; nothing 
will do for me now but />5/j,' and she stretched out her hand 
for the laudanum. * Is not it shocking to think,' continued she, 
after she had swallowed it, ' that in laudanum alone I find the 
means of supporting existence ? ' 

277 



c^ 






BELINDA 

She put her hand to her head, as if partly conscious of the 
confusion of her own ideas : and ashamed that Belinda should 
witness it, she desired Marriott to assist her to rise, and to 
support her to her bedchamber. She made a sign to Miss 
Portman not to follow her. * Do not take it unkindly, but I 
am quite exhausted, and wish to be alone ; for I am grown 
fond of being alone some hours in the day, and perhaps I 
shall sleep.' 

Marriott came out of her lady's room about a quarter of an 
hour afterward, and said that her lady seemed disposed to sleep, 
but that she desired to have her book left by her bedside. 
Marriott searched among several which lay upon the table, for 
one in which a mark was put. Belinda looked over them 
along with Marriott, and she was surprised to find that they 
had almost all methodistical titles. Lady Delacour's mark was 
in the middle of Wesley's Admonitions, Several pages in 
other books of the same description Miss Portman found 
marked in pencil, with reiterated lines, which she knew to be 
her ladyship's customary mode of distinguishing passages 
that she particularly liked. Some were highly oratorical, but 
most of them were of a mystical cast, and appeared to Belinda 
scarcely intelligible. She had reason to be astonished at 
meeting with such books in the dressing-room of a woman of 
Lady Delacour's character. During the solitude of her illness, 
her ladyship had first begun to think seriously on religious 
subjects, and the early impressions that had been made on her 
mind in her childhood, by a methodistical mother, recurred. 
Her understanding, weakened perhaps by disease, and never 
accustomed to reason, was incapable of distinguishing between 
truth and error ; and her temper, naturally enthusiastic, hurried 
her from one extreme to the other — ^from thoughtless scepticism 
to visionary credulity. Her devotion was by no means steady 
or permanent j it came on by fits usually at the time when the 
effect of opium was exhausted, or before a fresh dose began to 
operate. In these intervals she was low-spirited — bitter reflec- 
tions on the manner in which she had thrown away her talents 
and her life obtruded themselves ; the idea of the untimely 
death of Colonel Lawless, of which she reproached herself as 
the cause, returned; and her mind, from being a prey to 
remorse, began to sink in these desponding moments under the 
most dreadful superstitious terrors — terrors the more powerful 

278 



• 




RECONCILIATION 

as they were secret. Whilst the stimulus of laudanum lasted, 
the train of her ideas always changed, and she was amazed at 
the weak fears and strange notions by which she had been 
disturbed ; yet it was not in her power entirely to chase away 
these visions of the night, and they gained gradually a 
dominion over her, of which she was heartily ashamed. She 
resolved to conceal this weakness^ as in her gayer moments 
she thought it, from Belinda, from whose superior strength 
of understanding she dreaded ridicule or contempt. Her ex- 
perience of Miss Portman's gentleness and friendship might 
reasonably have prevented or dispelled such apprehensions ; 
but Lady Delacour was governed by pride, by sentiment, by 
whim, by enthusiasm, by passion — by anything but reason. 

When she began to revive after her fit of languor, and had 
been refreshed by opium and sleep, she rang for Marriott, and 
inquired for Belinda. She was much provoked when Marriott, 
by way of proving to her that Miss Portman could not have 
been tired of being left alone, told her that she had been in 
the dressing-room rummaging over the books, 

* What books t ' cried Lady Delacour. * I forgot that they 
were left there. Miss Portman is not reading them still, I 
suppose ? Go for them, and let them be locked up in my own 
bookcase, and bring me the key.' 

Her ladyship appeared in good spirits when she saw Belinda 
again. She rallied her upon the serious studies she had chosen 
for her morning's amusements. ' Those methodistical books, 
with their strange quaint titles,' said she, *are, however, 
diverting enough to those who, like myself, can find diversion 
in the height of human absurdity.' 

Deceived by the levity of her manner, Belinda concluded 
that the marks of approbation in these books were ironical, and 
she thought no more of the matter ; for Lady Delacour 
suddenly gave a new turn to the conversation by exclaiming, 
* Now we talk of the height of human absurdity, what are we 
to think of Clarence Hervey ? ' 

* Why should we think of him at all ? ' said Belinda. 

* For two excellent reasons, my dear : because we cannot 
help it, and because he deserves it. Yes, he deserves it, 
believe me, if it were only for having written these charming 
letters,' said Lady Delacour, opening a cabinet, and taking out 
a small packet of letters, which she put into Belinda's hands. 

279 



BELINDA 

< Pray read them ; you will find them amazingly edifying, as 
well as entertaining. I protest I am only puzzled to know 
whether I shall bind them up with Sterne's Sentimental 
Journey or Yotdyc^ Sermons for Young Women, Here, my 
love, if you like description,' continued her ladyship, opening 
one of the letters, < here is a Radcliffean tour along the pictiu*- 
esque coasts of Dorset and Devonshire. Why he went this 
tour, unless for the pleasure and glory of describing it, Heaven 
knows ! Clouds and darkness rest over the tourist's private 
history : but this, of course, renders his letters more piquant 
and interesting. All who have a just taste either for literature 
or for gallantry, know how much we are indebted to the obscure 
for the sublime ; and orators and lovers feel what felicity there 
is in the use of the fine figure of suspension.' 

* Very good description, indeed 1 ' said Belinda, without 
raising her eyes from the letter, or seeming to pay any attention 
to the latter part of Lady Delacour's speech ; * very good 
description, certainly I ' 

* Well, my dear ; but here is something better than pure 
description — here is sense for you : and pray mark the polite- 
ness of addressing sense to a woman — to a woman of sense, I 
mean — and which of us is not ? Then here is sentiment for 
you,' continued her ladyship, spreading another letter before 
Belinda ; * a story of a Dorsetshire lady, who had the misfor- 
tune to be married to a man as unlike Mr. Percival, and as 
like Lord Delacour as possible j and yet, oh, wonderful 1 they 
make as happy a couple as one's heart could wish. Now, I 
am truly candid and good-natured to admire this letter ; for 
every word of it is a lesson to me, and evidently was so 
intended. But I take it all in good part, because, to do 
Clarence justice, he describes the joys of domestic Paradise in 
such elegant language, that he does not make me sick. In 
short, my dear Belinda, to finish my panegyric, as it has been 
said of some other epistles, if ever there were letters calculated 
to make you fall in love with the writer of them, these are 
they. 

* Then,' said Miss Portman, folding up the letter which she 
was just going to read, < I will not run the hazard of reading 
them.' 

*Why, my dear,' said Lady Delacour, with a look of 
mingled concern, reproach, and raillery, *have you actually 

280 



RECONCILIATION 

given up my poor Clarence, merely on account of this mistress 
in the wood, this Virginia St Pierre ? Nonsense ! Begging 
your pardon, my dear, the man loves you. Some entangle- 
ment, some punctilio, some doubt, some delicacy, some folly, 
prevents him from being just at this moment, where, I confess, 
he ought to be — at your feet ; and you, out of patience, which 
a young lady ought never to be if she can help it, will go and 
marry — I know you will — some stick of a rival, purely to 
provoke him.' 

< If ever I marry,' said Belinda, with a look of proud 
humility, < I shall certainly marry to please myself, and not to 
provoke anybody else ; and, at all events, I hope I shall never 
marry a sticks 

* Pardon me that word,' said Lady Delacour. * I am 
convinced you never will — but one is apt to judge of others 
by one's self. I am willing to believe that Mr. Vincent ' 

* Mr. Vincent 1 How did you know ' exclaimed 

Belinda. 

* How did I know ? Why, my dear, do you think I am so 
little interested about you, that I have not found out some of 
your secrets ? And do you think that Marriott could refrain 
from telling me, in her most triumphant tone, that " Miss Port- 
man has not gone to Oakly Park for nothing ; that she has 
made a conquest of a Mr. Vincent, a West Indian, a ward, or 
lately a ward, of Mr. Percival's, the handsomest man that ever 
was seen, and the richest, etc. etc. etc. ? " Now simple I 
rejoiced at the news ; for I took it for granted you would never 
seriously think of marrying the man.' 

* Then why did your ladyship rejoice ? ' 

* Why ? Oh, you novice at Cupid's chess-board I do not 
you see the next move ? Check with your new knight, and the 
game is your own. Now, if yotu* aunt Stanhope saw your look 
at this instant, she would give you up for ever — if she have not 
done that already. In plain, unmetaphorical prose, then, 
cannot you comprehend, my straightforward Belinda, that if 
you make Clarence Hervey heartily jealous, let the impediments 
to your union be what they may, he will acknowledge himself 
to be heartily in love with you ? I should make no scruple of 
frightening him within an inch of his life, for his good. Sir 
Philip Baddely was not the man to frighten him ; but this Mr. 
Vincent, by all accounts, is just the thing.' 

281 



BELINDA 

*And do you imagine that I could use Mr. Vincent so 
ill ? — And can you think me capable of such double dealing ? ' 

* Oh ! in love and war, you know, all stratagems are allow- 
able. But you take the matter so seriously, and you redden 
with such virtuous indignation, that I dare not say a word 
more— only — ^may I ask — are you absolutely engaged to Mr. 
Vincent ? ' 

* No. We have had the prudence to avoid all promises, all 
engagements.' 

' There's my good girl ! ' cried Lady Delacour, kissing her : 

* all may yet turn out well. Read those letters — take them to 
your room, read them, read them ; and depend upon it, my 
dearest Belinda I you are not the sort of woman that will, that 
can be happy, if you make a mere match of convenience. 
Forgive me — I love you too well not to speak the truth, though 
it may offend for a moment.' 

*You do not offend, but you misunderstand me,' said 
Belinda. * Have patience with me, and you shall find that I 
am incapable of making a mere match of convenience.' 

Then Miss Portman gave Lady Delacour a simple but full 
account of all that had passed at Oakly-Park relative to Mr. 
Vincent. She repeated the arguments by which Lady Anne 
Percival had first prevailed upon her to admit of Mr. Vincent's 
addresses. She said, that she had been convinced by Mr. 
Percival, that the omnipotence of a first love was an idea 
founded in error, and realised only in romance ; and that to 
believe that none could be happy in marriage, except with the 
first object of their fancy or their affections, would be an error 
pernicious to individuals and to society. When she detailed 
the arguments used by Mr. Percival on this subject. Lady 
Delacour sighed, and observed that Mr. Percival was certainly 
right, judging from his own experience^ to declaim against the 
folly oi first loves; 'and for the same reason,' added she, 

* perhaps I may be pardoned if I retain some prejudice in 
their favour.' She turned aside her head to hide a starting 
tear, and here the conversation dropped. Belinda, recollecting 
the circumstances of her ladyship's early history, reproached 
herself for having touched on this tender subject, yet at the 
same time she felt with increased force, at this moment, the 
justice of Mr. Percival's observations ; for, evidently, the hold 
which this prejudice had kept in Lady Delacour's mind had 

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RECONCILIATION 

materially injured her happiness, by making her neglect, after 
her marriage, all the means of content that were in her reach. 
Her incessant comparisons between her first love and her 
husband excited perpetual contempt and disgxist in her mind 
for her wedded lord, and for many years precluded all percep- 
tion of his good qualities, all desire to live with him upon good 
terms, and all idea of securing that share of domestic happiness 
that was actually in her power. Belinda resolved at some 
future moment, whenever she could, with propriety and with 
effect, to suggest these reflections to Lady Delacour, and in 
the meantime she was determined to turn them to her own 
advantage. She perceived that she should have need of all her 
steadiness to preserve her judgment unbiassed by her ladyship*s 
wit and persuasive eloquence on the one hand, and on the 
other by her own high opinion of Lady Anne PercivaPs 
judgment, and the anxious desire she felt to secure her 
approbation. The letters from Clarence Hervey she read at 
night, when she retired to her own room ; and they certainly 
raised not only Belinda's opinion of his talents, but her esteem 
for his character. She saw that he had, with great address, 
made use of the influence he possessed over Lady Delacour, to 
turn her mind to everything that could make her amiable, 
estimable, and happy — she saw that Clarence, so far from 
attempting, for the sake of his own vanity, to retain his pre- 
eminence in her ladyship's imagination, used on the contrary 
* his utmost skill ' to turn the tide of her aflections toward her 
husband and her daughter. In one of his letters, and but in 
one, he mentioned Belinda. He expressed great regret in 
hearing from Lady Delacour that her friend. Miss Portman, was 
no longer with her. He expatiated on the inestimable advant- 
ages and happiness of having such a friend — but this referred 
to Lady Delacour, not to himself. There was an air of much 
respect and some embarrassment in all he said of Belinda, 
but nothing like love. A few words at the end of this para- 
graph were cautiously obliterated, however ; and, without any 
obvious link of connection, the writer began a new sentence 
with a general reflection upon the folly and imprudence of 
forming romantic projects. Then he enumerated some of the 
various schemes he had formed in his early youth, and humor- 
ously recounted how they had failed, or how they had been 
abandoned. Afterward, changing his tone from playful wit to 

383 



BELINDA 

serious philosophy, he observed the changes which these ex- 
periments had made in his own character. 

* My friend, Dr. X ,' said he, * divides mankind into 

three classes : those who learn from the experience of others — 
they are happy men ; those who learn from their own experience 
— they are wise men 5 and, lastly, those who learn neither from 
their own nor from other people's experience — they are fools. 
This class is by far the largest. I am content,' continued 
Clarence, *to be in the middle class — ^perhaps you will say 
because I cannot be in the first : however, were it in my power 
to choose my own character, I should, forgive me the seeming 
vanity of the speech, still be content to remain in my present 
station upon this principle — the characters of those who are 
taught by their own experience must be progressive in know- 
ledge and virtue. Those who learn from the experience of 
others may become stationary, because they must depend for 
their progress on the experiments that we brave volunteers, at 
whose expense they are to live and learn, are pleased to try. 
There may be much safety in thus snugly fighting, or rather 
seeing the battle of life, behind the broad shield of a stouter 
warrior ; yet it seems to me to be rather an ignominious than 
an enviable situation. 

* Our friend. Dr. X ^ would laugh at my insisting upon 

being amongst the class of learners by their own experience. 
He would ask me, whether it be the ultimate end of my philo- 
sophy to try experiments, or to be happy. And what answer 
should I make ? I have none ready. Common sense stares 
me in the face, and my feelings, even at this instant, alas ! 
confute my system. I shall pay too dear yet for some of my 
experiments. " Sois grand homme, et sois malheureux," is, I 
am afraid, the law of nature, or rather the decree of the world. 
Your ladyship will not read this without a smile ; for you will 
immediately infer, that I think myself a great man ; and as I de- 
test hypocrisy yet more than vanity, I shall not deny the charge. 
At all events, I feel that I am at present — ^however gaily I talk 
of it — in as fair a way to be unhappy for life, as if I were, in 
good earnest, the greatest man in Europe. — ^Your ladyship's 
most respectful admirer, and sincere friend, 

'Clarence Hervey. 
^P,S, — Is there any hope that your friend, Miss Portman, 
may spend the winter in town ? ' 

284 



RECONCILIATION 

Though Lady Delacour had been much fatigued by the 
exertion of her spirits during the day, she sat up at night to 
write to Mr. Hervey. Her love and gratitude to Miss Portman 
interested her most warmly for her happiness, and she was 
persuaded that the most effectual way to secure it would be to 
promote her union with heryfrr/ love. Lady Delacour, who 
had also the best opinion of Clarence Hervey, and the most 
sincere friendship for him, thought she was likewise acting 
highly for his interest ; and she felt that she had some merit in 
at once parting with him from the train of her admirers, and 
urging him to become a dull, married man. Besides these 
generous motives, she was, perhaps, a little influenced by 
jealousy of the superior power which Lady Anne Percival had 
in so short a time acquired over Belinda's mind. * Strange,' 
thought she, * if love and I be not a match for Lady Anne 
Percival and reason ! ' To do Lady Delacour justice, it must 
be observed, that she took the utmost care in her letter not to 
commit her friend ; she wrote with all the delicate address of 
which she was mistress. She began by rallying her corre- 
spondent on his indulging himself so charmingly in the 
melancholy of genius; and she prescribed as a cure to her 
malheureux imaginaire^ as she called him, those joys of 
domestic life which he so well knew how to paint. 

^ Pricepte commence^ exemple achhue^ said her ladyship. 
* You will never see me lafemme comme il y en apeu^ till I see 
you le bon mart, Belinda Portman has this day returned to 
me from Oakly Park, fresh, blooming, wise, and gay, as 
country air, flattery, philosophy, and love can make her. It 
seems that she has had full employment for her head and heart. 
Mr. Percival and Lady Anne, by right of science and reason, 
have taken possession of the head, and a Mr. Vincent, their 
ci-devant ward and declared favourite, has laid close siege to 
the heart, of which he is in a fair way, I think, to take posses- 
sion, by the right of conquest. As far as I can understand — 
for I have not yet seen lefutur — he deserves my Belinda ; for 
besides being as handsome as any hero of romance, ancient or 
modem, he has a soul in which neither spot nor blemish can 
be foimd, except the amiable weakness of being desperately in 
love — a weakness which we ladies are apt to prefer to the 
most philosophic stoicism : apropos of philosophy — we may pre- 
sume, that notwithstanding Mr. V is a Creole, he has been 

2%A 



BELINDA 

bred up by his guardian in the class of men who learn by the 
experience of others. As such, according to your system, he 
has a right to expect to be a happy man^ has not he ? Accord- 
ing to Mrs. Stanhope's system, I am sure that he has : for his 
thousands and tens of thousands, as I am credibly informed, 
pass the comprehension of the numeration table. 

* But these will weigh not a grain in the estimation of her 
truly disinterested and noble-minded niece. Mrs. Stanhope 
knows nothing of Mr. Vincent's proposals ; and it is well for 
him she does not, for her worldly good word would mar the 
whole. Not so as to Lady Anne and Mr. Percival's appro- 
bation — their opinion is all in all with my friend. How they 
have contrived it, I know not, but they have gained over 
Belinda's mind a degree of power almost equal to parental 
authority ; so you may guess that the doubtful beam will not 
much longer nod from side to side : indeed it seems to me 
scarcely necessary to throw in the sword of authority to turn 
the scale. 

* If you can persuade yourself to finish your picturesque tour 
before the ides of the charming month of November, do, my 
dear Clarence ! make haste and come back to us in time for 
Belinda's wedding — ^and do not forget my commission about 
the Dorsetshire angel ; bring me one in your right hand with 
a gold ring upon her taper finger — so help you, Cupid ! or 
never more expect a smile from your sincere friend and 
admirer, T. C. H. Delacour. 

^ P,S. — Observe, my good sir, that I am not in such a 
desperate hurry to congratulate you on your marriage, that I 
should be satisfied with an ordinary Mrs. Hervey : so do not, 
under pretence of obliging me, or for any other consideration, 
yoke yourself to some damsel that you will be ashamed to pro- 
duce. For one woman worthy to be Clarence Hervey's wife, I 
have seen, at a moderate computation, a hundred fit to be his 
mistress. If he should, on this subject, mistake ih^ fitness of 
things or of persons^ he would indeed be in a fair way to be 
unhappy for life. 

* The substance of a lady's letter, it has been said, always is 
comprised in the postscript.' 

After Lady Delacour had finished this letter, which she had 
no doubt would bring Clarence immediately to town, she 

286 



\ 

\ 

\ i .. • 

RECONCILIATION , . 

left it with Marriott, with orders to have it sent by the next 
post Much fatigued, she then retired to rest, and w^as not 
visible the next day till near dinner-time. When Miss Portman 
returned the packet of Mr. Hervey's letters, her ladyship was 
dissatisfied with the measured terms of Belinda's approbation, 
and she said, with a sarcastic smile, * So, they have made a 
complete philosopher of you at Oakly Park 1 You are perfect 
in the first lesson — not to admire. And is the torch of Cupid 
to be extinguished on the altar of Reason ? ' 

* Rather to be lighted there, if possible,' said Belinda ; and 
she endeavoured to turn the conversation to what she thought 
must be more immediately interesting to Lady Delacour — her 
own health. She assured her, with perfect truth, that she was 
at present more intent upon her situation than upon Cupid or 
his torch. 

* I believe you, my generous Belinda ! ' said Lady Delacour ; 
*and for that very reason I am interested in your affairs, I 
am afraid, even to the verge of impertinence. May I ask why 
this preux chevalier of yours did not attend you, or follow you 
to town 1 ' 

* Mr. Vincent ? — He knew that I came to attend your lady- 
ship. I told him that you had been confined by a nervous 
fever, and that it would be impossible for me to see him at 
present ; but I promised, when you could spare me, to return 
to Oakly Park.' 

Lady Delacour sighed, and opened Clarence Hervey's letters 
one after another, looking over them without seeming well to 
know what she was about. Lord Delacour came into the room 
whilst these letters were still in her hand. He had been 
absent since the preceding morning, and he now seemed as if 
he were just come home, much fatigued. He began in a tone 
of great anxiety to inquire after Lady Delacour's health. She 
was piqued at his having left home at such a time, and, merely 
bowing her head to him, she went on reading. His eyes 
glanced upon the letters which she held in her hand ; and 
when he saw the well-known writing of Clarence Hervey, his 
manner immediately altered, and, stammering out some com- 
monplace phrases, he threw himself into an arm-chair by the 
fireside, protesting that he was tired to death — that he was 
half dead — that he had been in a post-chaise for three hours, 
which he hated — had ridden fifty miles since yesterday ; and 

287 



BELINDA 

he muttered that he was a fool for his pains — an observation 
which, though it reached her ladyship's ears, she did not think 
proper to contradict. 

His lordship had then recourse to his watch, his never- 
failing friend in need, which he always pulled out with a 
particular jerk when he was vexed. 

* It is time for me to be gone — I shall be late at Studle/s.' 

* You dine with his lordship then ? ' said Lady Delacour, in 
a careless tone. 

* Yes J and his good burgundy, I hope, will wind me up 
again,' said he, stretching himself, < for I am quite down.' 

* Quite down ? Then we may conclude that my friend Mrs. 
Luttridge is not yet come to Rantipole, Rantipole, my dear,' 
continued Lady Delacour, turning to Miss Portman, *is the 
name of Harriot Freke's villa in Kent However strange it 
may sound to your ears and mine, I can assure you the name 
has made fortune amongst a certain description of wits. And 
candour must allow that, if not elegant, it is appropriate ; it 
gives a just idea of the manners and way of life of the place, 
for everything at Rantipole is rantipole. But I am really con- 
cerned, my lord, you should have ridden yourself down in this 
way for nothing. Why did not you get better intelligence 
before you set out ? I am afraid you feel the loss of Champfort. 
Why did not you contrive to learn for certain, my dear good 
lord, whether the Luttridge was at Rantipole, before you set 
out on this wild-goose-chase t ' 

* My dear good lady,' replied Lord Delacour, assuming a 
degree of spirit which startled her as much as it became him, 

'why do you not get better intelligence before you suspect me 
of being a brute and a liar ? Did not I promise you yesterday, 
that I would break with the Luttridge^ as you call her ? and how 
could you imagine that the instant afterwards, just at the time 
I was wrung to the soul, as you know I was — how could you 
imagine I would leave you to go to Rantipole, or to any woman 
upon earth ? ' 

* O my lord ! I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon a 
thousand times,' cried Lady Delacour, rising with much emotion ; 
and, going towards him with a sudden impulse, she kissed his 
forehead. 

* And so you ought to beg my pardon,' said Lord Delacour, 
in a faltering voice, but without moving his posture. 

288 



RECONCILIATION 

* You will acknowledge you left me, however, my lord ? That 
is clear.' 

* Left you I Yes, so I did ; to ride all over the country in 
search of a house that would suit you. For what else did you 
think I could leave you at such a time as this ? ' 

Lady Delacour again stooped, and leaned her arm upon his 
shoulder. 

* I wish to Heaven, my dear,' said his lordship, shrinking as 
he put away her hand, which still held Clarence Hervey's 
letters, * I wish to Heaven, my dear, you would not hold those 
abominable perfumed papers just under my very nose. You 
know I cannot stand perfumes.' 

' Are they perfumed ? Ay ; so everything is that I keep in 
that cabinet of curiosities. Thank you, my dear Miss Portman,' 
said her ladyship, as Belinda rose to take the letters from her 
hand. * Will you have the goodness to put them back into 
their cabinet, if you can endure to touch them, if the perfume 
has not overcome you as well as my lord ? After all, it is only 
ottar of roses, to which few people's olfactory nerves have an 
antipathy.' 

< I have the honour to be one of the few,' said his lordship, 
rising from his seat with so sudden a motion as to displace 
Lady Delacour's arm which leaned upon him. * For my part,' 
continued he, taking down one of the Argand lamps from the 
chimney-piece, and trimming it, * I would rather a hundred to 
one snuff up the oil of this cursed lamp.' 

Whilst his lordship applied himself to trimming the lamp 
with great earnestness. Lady Delacour negligently walked away 
to the farthest end of the room, where stood the cabinet, which 
Belinda was trying to unlock. 

* Stay, my love ; it has a secret lock, which I alone can 
manage.' 

* O my dear Lady Delacour ! ' whispered Belinda, holding 
her hand as she gave her the key, * I never can love or esteem 
you if you use Lord Delacour ill now.' 

* 111 now ? ill now ? This lock is spoilt, I do believe,' said 
she aloud. 

* Nay, you understand me, Lady Delacour ! You see what 
is passing in his mind.' 

* To be sure : I am not a fool, though he is. I see he is 
jealous, though he has had such damning firoof XhdX all's right 

u 289 

\ 



V 'I 



. <•■'.< 



BELINDA 

— the man's a fool, that's all. Are you sure this is the key I 
gave you, my dear ? ' 

* And can you think him a fool,' pursued Belinda, in a still 
more earnest whisper, * for being more jealous of your mind 
than of your person ? Fools have seldom so much penetration, 
or so much delicacy.' 

* But, Lord ! what would you have me do ? what would you 
have me say ? That Lord Delacour writes better letters than 
these ? ' 

* Oh, no I but show him these letters, and you will do justice 
to him, to yourself, to Cla , to everybody.' 

* I am sure I should be happy to do justice to everybody,^ 

* Then pray do this very instant, my dearest Lady Delacour I 
and I shall love you for it all my life.' 

* Done I — for who can withstand that offer ? — Done ! ' said 
her ladyship. Then turning to Lord Delacour, * My lord, will 
you come here and tell us what can be the matter with this 
lock?' 

* If the lock be spoiled. Lady Delacour, you had better send 
for a locksmith,* replied his lordship, who was still employed 
about the wick of the Argand : * I am no locksmith — I do not 
pretend to understand locks — especially secret locks.' 

* But you will not desert us at our utmost need, I am sure, 
my lord,' said Belinda, approaching him with a conciliatory 
smile. 

*You want the light, I believe, more than I do,' said his 
lordship, advancing with the lamp to meet her. * Well 1 what 
is the matter with this confounded lock of yours. Lady Delacour? 
I know I should be at Studley's by this time — ^but how in the 
devil's name can you expect me to open a secret lock when I 
do not know the secret. Lady Delacour ? ' 

* Then I will tell you the secret. Lord Delacour — that there 
is no secret at all in the lock, or in the letters. Here, if you 
can stand the odious smell of ottar of roses, take these letters 
and read them, foolish man ; and keep them till the shocking 
perfume is gone off.' 

Lord Delacour could scarcely believe his senses ; he looked 
in Lady Delacour's eyes to see whether he had understood her 
rightly. 

* But I am afraid,' said she, smiling, * that you will find the 
perfume too overcoming.' 

290 



RECONCILIATION 

' Not half so overcoming,' cried he, seizing her hand, and 
kissing it often with eager tenderness, * not half so overcoming 
as this confidence, this kindness, this condescension from you.' 

* Miss Portman will think us both a couple of old fools,' said 
her ladyship, making a slight effort to withdraw her hand. 
* But she is almost as great a simpleton herself, I think,' con- 
tinued she, observing that the tears stood in Belinda's eyes. 

* My lord,' said a footman who came in at this instant, * do 
you dress ? The carriage is at the door, as you ordered, to go 
to Lord Studley's.' 

* I'd see Lord Studley at the devil, sir, and his burgundy 
along with him, before I'd go to him to-day ; and you may tell 
him so, if you please,' cried Lord Delacour. 

* Very well, my lord,' said the footman. 

* My lord dines at home — they may put up the carriage — 
that's all,' said Lady Delacour : * only let us have dinner 
directly,' added she, as the servant shut the door. * Miss 
Portman will be famished amongst us : there is no living upon 
sentiment.' 

'And there is no living with such belles without being 
something more of a beau,' said Lord Delacour, looking at his 
splashed boots. * I will be ready for dinner before dinner is 
ready for me.' With activity very unusual to him, he hurried 
out of the room to change his dress. 

* O day of wonders ! ' exclaimed Lady Delacour. * And, 
O night oif wonders ! if we can get him through the evening 
without the help of Lord Studley's wine. You must give us 
some music, my good Belinda, and make him accompany you 
with his flute. I can tell you he has really a very pretty taste 
for music, and knows fifly times more of the matter than half 
the dilettanti, who squeeze the human face divine into all ' 
manner of ridiculous shapes, by way of persuading you that 
they are in ecstasy ! And, my dear, do not forget to show us 
the charming little portfolio of drawings that you have brought 
from Oakly Park. Lord Delacour was with me at Harrowgate 
in the days of his courtship : he knows the charming views 
that you have been taking about Knaresborough and Fountain's 
Abbey, and all those places. I will answer for it, he remembers 
them a hundred times better than I do. And, my love, I 
assure you he is a better judge of drawing than many whom 
we saw ogling Venus rising from the sea, in the Orleans gallery. 

291 



HELENA 

Lord Delacour has let his talents go to sleep in a shameless 
manner ; but really he has talents, if they could be wakened. 
By the bye, pray make him tell you the story of Lord Studle/s 
original Titian : he tells that story with real humour. Perhaps 
you have not found it out, but Lord Delacour has a vast deal 
of drollery in his own way, and ' 

* Dinner's ready, my lady ! ' 

'That is a pity!' whispered Lady Delacour; *for if they 
had let me go on in my present humour, I should have found 
out that my lord has every accomplishment under the sun, and 
every requisite under the moon, to make the marriage state 
happy.' 

With the assistance of Belinda's portfolio and her harp, and 
the good-humour and sprightliness of Lady Delacour's wit, his 
lordship got through the evening much to his own satisfaction. 
He played on the flute, he told the story of Studle/s original 
Titian, and he detected a fault that had escaped Mr. Percival 
in the perspective of Miss Portman's sketch of Fountain's 
Abbey. The perception that his talents were called out^ and 
that he appeared to unusual advantage, made him excellent 
company: he found that the spirits can be raised by self- 
complacency even more agreeably than by burgundy. 



CHAPTER XXI 

HELENA 

Whilst they were at breakfast the next morning in Lady 
Delacour's dressing-room, Marriott knocked at the door, and 
immediately opening it, exclaimed in a joyful tone, 'Miss 
Portman, they're eating it ! Ma'am, they're eating it as fast 
as ever they can ! ' 

* Bring them in ; your lady will give you leave, Marriott, I 
fancy,' said Miss Portman. Marriott brought in her gold- 
fishes ; some green leaves were floating on the top of the water 
in the glass globe. 

* See, my lady,' said she, * what Miss Portman has been so 
good as to bring from Oakly Park for my poor goldfishes, 

293 



BELINDA 

who, I am sure, ought to be much obUged to her, as well as 
myself.' Marriott set the globe beside her lady, and retired. 

* From Oakly Park ! And by what name impossible to 
pronounce must I call these green leaves, to please botanic 
ears ? ' said Lady Delacour. 

* This,' replied Belinda, * is what 

* Th' unlearned, duckweed — learned, lemna, call ; 

and it is to be found in any ditch or standing pool.' 

* And what possessed you, my dear, for the sake of Marriott 
and her goldfishes, to trouble yourself to bring such stuff a 
hundred and seventy miles ? ' 

*To oblige little Charles Percival,' said Miss Portman. 
* He was anxious to keep his promise of sending it to your 
Helena. She found out in some book that she was reading 
with him last summer, that goldfishes are fond of this plant ; 
and I wish,' added Belinda, in a timid voice, * that she were 
here at this instant to see them eat it.' 

Lady Delacour was silent for some minutes, and kept her 
eye steadily upon the goldfishes. At length she said, * I 
never shall forget how well the poor little creature behaved 
about those goldfishes. I grew amazingly fond of her whilst 
she was with me. But you know, circumstanced as I was, 
after you left me, I could not have her at home.' 

* But now I am here,' said Belinda, * will she be any trouble 
to you ? And will she not make your home more agreeable 
to you, and to Lord Delacour, who was evidently very fond 
of her ? ' 

* Ah, my dear ! ' said Lady Delacour, * you forget, and so 
do I at times, what I have to go through. It is in vain to 
talk, to think of making home, or any place, or any thing, or 
any person, agreeable to me now. What am I ? The outside 
rind is left — the sap is gone. The tree lasts from day to day 
by miracle — it cannot last long. You would not wonder to 
hear me talk in this way, if you knew the terrible time I had 
last night after we parted. But I have these nights constantly 
now. Let us talk of something else. What have you there — 
a manuscript ? ' 

* Yes, a little journal of Edward Percival's, which he sent 
for the entertainment of Helena.' 

Lady Delacour stretched out her hand for it. * The boy 

294 



HELENA 

will write as like his father as possible/ said she, turning over 
the leaves. * I wish to have this poor girl with me — but I 
have no spirits. And you know, whenever Lord Delacour can 
find a house that will suit us, we shall leave town, and I could 
not take Helena with me. But this may be the last oppor- 
tunity I may ever have of seeing her ; and I can refuse you 
nothing, my dear. So will you go for her? She can stay 
with us a few days. Lady Boucher, that most convenient 
dowager, who likes going about, no matter where, all the 
morning, will go with you to Mrs. Dumont's academy in 
Sloane Street. I would as soon go to a bird-fancier's as to a 
boarding-school for young ladies : indeed, I am not well enough 
to go anywhere. So I will throw myself upon a sofa, and read 
this child's journal. I wonder how that or anything else can 
interest me now.' 

Belinda, who had been used to the variations of Lady 
Delacour's spirits, was not much alarmed by the despondent 
strain in which she now spoke, especially when she considered 
that the thoughts of Uie dreadful trial this unfortunate 
woman was soon to go through must naturally depress her 
courage. Rejoiced at the permission that she had obtained 
to go for Helena, Miss Portman sent immediately to Lady 
Boucher, who took her to Sloane Street. 

*Now, my dear, considerate Miss Portman,' said Lady 
Boucher, * I must beg, and request that you will hurry Miss 
Delacour into the carriage as fast as possible. I have not a 
moment to spare ; for I am to be at a china auction at two, 
that I would not miss for the whole world. Well, whaf s the 
matter with the people ? Why does not James knock at the 
door ? Can't the man read ? Can't the man see ? ' cried the 
purblind dowager. * Is not that Mrs. Dumont's name on the 
door before his eyes ? ' 

* No, ma'am, I believe this name is EUicot,' said Belinda. 

* EUicot, is it ? Ay, true. But what's the man stopping 
for, then? Mrs. Dumont's is the next door, tell the blind 
dunce. Mercy on us 1 To waste one's time in this way ! I 
shall, as sure as fate, be too late for the china auction. What 
upon earth stops us ? ' 

'Nothing but a little covered cart, which stands at Mrs. 
Dumont's door. There, now it is going; an old man is 
drawing it out of the way as fast as he can.' 

295 



BELINDA 

* Open the coach-door, James ! ' cried Lady Boucher the 
moment that they had drawn up. * Now, my dear, considerate 
Miss Portman, remember the auction, and don't let Miss 
Delacour stay to change her dress or anything.' 

Belinda promised not to detain her ladyship a minute. The 
door at Mrs. Dumont's was open, and a servant was assisting 
an old man to carry in some geraniums and balsams out of the 
covered cart which had stopped the way. In the hall a crowd 
of children were gathered round a high stand, on which they 
were eagerly arranging their flower-pots ; and the busy hum of 
voices was so loud, that when Miss Portman first went in, she 
could neither hear the servant, nor make him hear her name. 
Nothing was to be heard but * Oh, how beautiful I Oh, how 
sweet I That's mine ! That's yours I The great rose geranium 
for Miss Jefferson ! The white Provence rose for Miss 
Adderly ! No, indeed, Miss Pococke, that's for Miss Delacour ; 
the old man said so.' 

^Silence, silence^ mesdemaiselles P cried the voice of a 
French woman, and all was silence. The little crowd looked 
towards the hall door ; and from the midst of her companions, 
Helena Delacour, who now caught a glimpse of Belinda, sprang 
forward, throwing down her white Provence rose as she 
passed. 

* Lady Boucher's compliments, ma'am,' said the servant to 
Mrs. Dumont ; ^ she's in indispensable haste, and she begs 
you won't let Miss Delacour think of changing her dress.' 

It was the last thing of which Miss Delacour was likely to 
think at this instant. She was so much overjoyed, when she 
heard that Belinda was come by her mamma's desire to take 
her home, that she would scarcely stay whilst Mrs. Dumont 
was tying on her straw hat, and exhorting her to let Lady 
Delacour know how it happened that she was < so far from fit 
to be seen.' 

* Yes ma'am ; yes ma'am, I'll remember ; I'll be sure to 
remember,' said Helena, tripping down the steps. But just as 
she was getting into the carriage she stopped at the sight of 
the old man, and exclaimed, < Oh, good old man ! I must 
not forget you.' 

* Yes, indeed, you must, though, my dear Miss Delacour,' 
said Lady Boucher, pulling her into the carriage : * 'tis no 
time to think of good old men now.' 

296 



HELENA 

* But I must. Dear Miss Portman, will you speak for me ? 
I must pay — I must settle — and I have a great deal to say.' 

Miss Portman desired the old man to call in Berkley Square 
at Lady Delacour's ; and this satisfying all parties, they drove 
away. 

When they arrived in Berkley Square, Marriott told them 
that her lady was just gone to lie down. Edward Percival's little 
journal, which she had been reading, was left on the sofa, and 
Belinda gave it to Helena, who eagerly began to look over it. 
* Thirteen pages I Oh, how good he has been to write so 
much for me ! ' said she ; and she had almost finished reading 
it before her mother came into the room. 

Lady Delacour shrunk back as her daughter ran towards 
her ; for she recollected too well the agony she had once 
suffered from an embrace of Helena's. The little girl appeared 
more grieved than surprised at this ; and after kissing her 
mother's hand, without speaking, she again looked down at 
the manuscript. 

* Does that engross your attention so entirely, my dear,' said 
Lady Delacour, *lhat you can neither spare one word nor one 
look for your mother ? ' 

* O mamma I I only tried to read, because I thought you 
were angry with me.' 

* An odd reason for trying to read, my dear I ' said Lady 
Delacour, with a smile : * have you any better reason for 
thinking I was angry with you ? ' 

*Ah, I know you are not angry now, for you smile,' said 
Helena ; 'but I thought at first that you were, mamma, because 
you gave me only your hand to kiss.' 

* Only my hand ! The next time, simpleton, I'll give you 
only my foot to kiss,' said her ladyship, sitting down, and 
holding out her foot playfully. 

Her daughter threw aside the book, and kneeling down 
kissed her foot, saying, in a low voice, * Dear mamma, I never 
was so happy in my life ; for you never looked so very, very 
kindly at me before.' 

* Do not judge always of the kindness people feel for you, 
child, by their looks ; and remember that it is possible a 
person might have felt more than you could guess by their 
looks. Pray now, Helena, you are such a good judge of 
physiognomy, should you guess that I was dying, by my looks?' 

297 



^ 



\- 



HELENA 



The little girl laughed, and repeated ^ Dying f Oh, no, 



mamma.' 



* Oh, no ! because I have such a fine colour in my cheeks, 
hey?' 

* Not for that reason, mamma,' said Helena, withdrawing 
her eyes from her mothei^s face. 

* What, then you know rouge already when you see it ? — 
You perceive some difference, for instance, between Miss 
Portman's colour and mine? Upon my word, you are a 
nice observer. Such nice observers are sometimes dangerous 
to have near one.' 

* I hope, mother,' said Helena, * that you do not think I 
would try to find out anything that you wish, or that I 
imagined you wished, I should not know.' 

*I do not understand you, child,' cried Lady Delacour, 
raising herself suddenly upon the sofa, and looking full in her 
daughter's face. 

Helena's colour rose to her temples ; but, with a firmness 
that surprised even Belinda, she repeated what she had said 
nearly in the same words. 

*' Do you understand her. Miss Portman ? ' said Lady 
Delacour. 

< She expresses, I think,' said Belinda, < a very honourable 
sentiment, and one that is easily understood.' 

*Ay, in general, certainly,' said Lady Delacour, checking 
herself; 'but I thought that she meant to allude to something 
in particular — that was what 1 did not understand. Un- 
doubtedly, my dear, you have just expressed a very honourable 
sentiment, and one that I should scarcely have expected from 
a child of your age.' 

* Helena, my dear,' said her mother, after a silence of some 
minutes, *did you ever read the Arabian Tales? — "Yes, 
mamma," I know must be the answer. But do you remember 
the story of Zobeide, who carried the porter home with her on 
condition that, let him hear or see what he might, he would 
ask no questions ? ' 

*Yes, mamma.' 

* On the same conditions should you like to stay with me 
for a few days ? ' 

<Yes. On any conditions, mamma, I should like to stay 
with you.' 

299 



BELINDA 

* Agreed, then, my dear ! ' said Lady Delacour. * Now let 
us go to the goldfishes, and see them eat lemna, or whatever 
you please to call it.' 

While they were looking at the goldfishes, the old man, 
who had been desired by Miss Portman to call, arrived. 

* Who is this fine, gray-haired old man ? ' said Lady Delacour. 
Helena, who did not know the share which Belinda's aunt and 
her own mother had in the transaction, began with great 
eagerness to tell the history of the poor gardener, who had 
been cheated by some fine ladies out of his aloe, etc. She 
then related how kind Lady Anne Percival and her aunt 
Margaret had been to him ; that they had gotten him a place 
as a gardener at Twickenham ; and that he had pleased the 
family to whom he was recommended so much by his good 
behaviour, that, as they were leaving their house, and obliged 
to part with him, they had given him all the geraniums and 
balsams out of the greenhouse of which he had the care, and 
these he had been this day selling to the young ladies at Mrs. 
Dumont's. *I received the money for him, and I was just 
going to pay him,' said Helena, ' when Miss Portman came ; 
and that put everything else out of my head. May I go and 
give him his money now, mamma ? ' 

* He can wait a few minutes,' said Lady Delacour, who had 
listened to this story with much embarrassment and impatience. 

* Before you go, Helena, favour us with the names of the fine 
ladies who cheated this old gardener out of his aloe.' 

' Indeed, mamma, I don't know their names.' 

* No ! — Did you never ask Lady Anne Percival, or your 
aunt Margaret ? — Look in my face, child I Did they never 
inform you ? ' 

<No, ma'am, never. I once asked Lady Anne, and she 
said that she did not choose to tell me ; that it would be of no 
use to me to know.' 

* I give Lady Anne Percival more credit and more thanks 
for this,' cried Lady Delacour, * than for all the rest. I see 
she has not attempted to lower me in my child's opinion. I 
am the fine lady, Helena — I was the cause of his being cheated 
— I was intent upon the noble end of outshining a certain Mrs. 
Luttridge — the nohle means I lefl to others, and the means 
have proved worthy of the end. I deserve to be brought to 
shame for my folly ; yet my being ashamed will do nobody 

300 



HELENA 

any good but myself. Restitution is in these cases the best 
proof of repentance. Go, Helena, my love ! settle your little 
affairs with this old man, and bid him call here again to- 
morrow. I will see what we can do for him.' 

Lord Delacour had this very morning sent home to her 
ladyship a handsome diamond ring, which had been intended 
as a present for Mrs. Luttridge, and which he imagined would 
therefore be peculiarly acceptable to his lady. In the evening, 
when his lordship asked her how she liked the ring, which he 
desired the jeweller to leave for her to look at it, she answered, 
that it was a handsome ring, but that she hoped he had not 
purchased it for her. 

< It is not actually bought, my dear,' said his lordship ; * but 
if it suits your fancy, I hope you will do me the honour to wear 
it for my sake.' 

* I will wear it for your sake, my lord,' said Lady Delacour, 
* if you desire it ; and as a mark of your regard it is agreeable : 
but as to the rest — 

* My taste for diamonds now is o*er, 
The sparkling baubles please no more. 

If you wish to do me a kindness, I will tell you what I should 
like much better than diamonds, though I know it is rather 
ungracious to dictate the form and fashion of a favour. But 
as my dictatorship in all human probability cannot last much 
longer ' 

*0 my dear Lady Delacour! I must not hear you talk 
in this manner : your dictatorship, as you call it, will I hope 
last many, many happy years. But to the point — ^what should 
you like better, my dear, than this foolish ring ? ' 

Her ladyship then expressed her wish that a small annuity 
might be settled upon a poor old man, whom she said she had 
unwittingly injured. She told the story of the rival galas and 
the aloe, and concluded by observing that her lord was in 
some measure called upon to remedy part of the unnumbered 
ills which had sprung from her hatred of Mrs. Luttridge, as 
he had originally been the cause of her unextinguishable ire. 
Lord Delacour was flattered by this hint, and the annuity was 
immediately promised to the old gardener. 

In talking to this old man afterward. Lady Delacour found 
that the family in whose service he lately lived had a house at 

301 



BELINDA 

Twickenham that would just answer her purpose. Lord 
Delacour's inquiries had hitherto been unsuccessful ; he was 
rejoiced to find what he wanted just as he was giving up the 
search. The house was taken, and the old man hired as 
gardener — a circumstance which seemed to give him almost 
as much pleasure as the annuity; for there was a morello 
cherry-tree in the garden which had succeeded the aloe in his 
affection : * it would have grieved him sorely,' he said, * to leave 
his favourite tree to strangers, after all the pains he had been 
at in netting it to keep off the birds.* 

As the period approached when her fate was to be decided. 
Lady Delacour's courage seemed to rise ; and at the same time 
her anxiety, that her secret should not be discovered, appeared 
to increase. 

* If I survive this business ^^ said she, * it is my firm intention 
to appear in a new character, or rather to assert my real cha- 
racter. I will break through the spell of dissipation — I will at 
once cast off all the acquaintance that are unworthy of me — I 
will, in one word, go with you, my dear Belinda, to Mr. Per- 
cival's. I can bear to be mortified for my good ; and I am 
willing, since I find that Lady Anne Percival has behaved 
generously to me, with regard to Helena's affections, I am will- 
ing that the recovery of my moral health should be attributed 
to the salubrious air of Oakly Park. But it would be inexpres- 
sible, intolerable mortification to me, to have it said or suspected 
in the world of fashion, that I retreated from the ranks disabled 7 
instead of disgusted. A voluntary retirement is graceful and 
dignified ; a forced retreat i%awkward and humiliating. You 
must be sensible that I could not endure to have it whispered — 
" Lady Delacour now sets up for being a prude, because she can 
no longer be a coquette." Lady Delacour would become the 
subject of witticisms, epigrams, caricatures without end. It 
would just be the very thing for Mrs. Luttridge ; then she would 
revenge herself without mercy for the ass and her panniers. 

We should have " Lord and Lady D , or the Domestic 

Tite-^tite^^ or " The Reformed Amazon," stuck up in a print- 
shop window 1 O, my dear, think of seeing such a thing I I 
should die with vexation ; and of all deaths, that is the death I 
should like the least.' 

Though Belinda could not entirely enter into those feelings, 
which thus made Lady Delacour invent wit against herself, and 

302 



! HELENA 



anticipate caricatures ; yet she did everything in her power to 
calm her ladyship's apprehension of a discovery. 

* My dear,' said Lady Delacour, * I have perfect confidence 
in Lord Delacour*s promise, and in his good nature, of which 
he has within these few days given me proofs that are not lost 
upon my heart ; but he is not the most discreet man in the 
world. Whenever he is anxious about anything, you may read 
it a mile off in his eyes, nose, mouth, and chin. And to tell 
you all my fears in one word, Marriott informed me this morn- 
ing, that the Luttridge^ who came from Harrowgate to Ranti- 
pole, to meet Lord Delacour, finding that there was no draw- 
ing him to her, has actually brought herself to town. 

* To town ! — At this strange time of year ! How will my 
lord resist this unequivocal, unprecedented proof of passion ? 
If she catch hold of him again, I am undone. Or, even suppose 
him firm as a rock, her surprise, her jealousy, her curiosity, will 
set all engines at work, to find out by what witchcraft I have 
taken my husband firom her. Every precaution that prudence 
could devise against her malicious curiosity I have taken. 
Marriott, you know, is above all temptation. That vile wretch 
(naming the person whose quack medicines had nearly destroyed 
her), that vile wretch will be silent from fear, for his own sake. 
He is yet to be paid and dismissed. That should have been 
done long ago, but I had not money both for him and Mrs. 
Franks the milliner. She is now paid : and Lord Delacour — 
I am glad to tell his friend how well he deserves her good 
opinion — Lord Delacour in the handsomest manner supplied me 
with the means of satisfying this man. He is to be here at 
three o'clock to-day ; and this is the last interview he will ever 
have with Lady Delacour in the mysterious boudoir,^ 

The fears which her ladyship expressed of Mrs. Luttridge's 
malicious curiosity were not totally without foundation. Champ- 
fort was at work for her and for himself. The memorable night 
of Lady Delacour's overturn, and the bustle that Marriott made 
about the key of the boudoir, were still fresh in his memory ; 
and he was in hopes that, if he could discover the mystery, he 
should at once regain his power over Lord Delacour, reinstate 
himself in his lucrative place, and obtain a handsome reward, 
or, more properly speaking, bribe, from Mrs. Luttridge. The 
means of obtaining information of all that passed in Lady 
Delacour's family were, he thought, still in his power, though 

303 



BELINDA 

he was no longer an inmate of the house. The stupid maid 
was not so stupid as to be impenetrable to the voice of flattery, 
or, as Mr. Champfort called it, the voice of love. He found 
it his interest to court, and she her pleasure to be courted. On 
these * coquettes of the second table,' on these underplots in the 
drama, much of the comedy, and some of the tragedy, of life 
depend. Under the unsuspected mask of stupidity this worthy 
mistress of our intriguing valet-de-chambre concealed the quick 
ears of a listener, and the demure eyes of a spy. Long, how- 
ever, did she listen, and long did she spy in vain, till at last 
Mr. Champfort gave her notice in writing that his love would 
not last another week, unless she could within that time contrive 
to satisfy his curiosity ; and that, in short, she must find out 
the reason why the boudoir was always locked, and why Mrs. 
Marriott alone was to be trusted with the key. Now it 
happened that this billet-doux was received on the very day 
appointed for Lady Delacour's last interview with the quack 
surgeon in the mysterious boudoir. Marriott, as it was her 
custom upon such occasions, let the surgeon in, and showed 
him up the back stairs into the boudoir, locked the door, and 
bade him wait there till her lady came. The man had not 
been punctual to the hour appointed ; and Lady Delacour, 
giving up all expectation of his coming till the next day, had 
retired to her bedchamber, where she of late usually at this 
hour secluded herself to read methodistical books, or to sleep. 
Marriott, when she went up to let her lady know that theperson^ 
as she always called him, was come, found her so fast asleep 
that she thought it a pity to waken her, as she had not slept at 
all the preceding night. She shut the door very softly, and 
left her lady to repose. At the bottom of the stairs she was 
met by the stupid maid^ whom she immediately despatched with 
orders to wash some lace : * Your lady's asleep,' said she, * and 
pray let me have no running up and down stairs.' The room 
into which the stupid maid went was directly underneath the 
boudoir ; and whilst she was there she thought that she heard 
the steps of a man's foot walking overhead. She listened 
more attentively — she heard them again. She armed herself 
with a glass of jelly in her hand, ,/2?r my lady, and hurried up- 
stairs instantly to my lady's room. She was much surprised to 
see my lady fast asleep. Her astonishment at finding that Mrs. 
Marriott had told her the truth was such, as for a moment to 

304 



HELENA 

bereave her of all presence of mind, and she stood with the 
door ajar in her hand. As thus she stood she was roused by 
the sound of some one clearing his throat very softly in the 
boudoir — his throat ; for she recollected the footsteps she had 
heard before, and she was convinced it could be no other than 
a masculine throat. She listened again, and stooped down to 
try whether any feet could be seen under the door. As she 
was in this attitude, her lady suddenly turned on her bed, and 
the book which she had been reading fell from the pillow to the 
floor with a noise, that made the listener start up instantaneously 
in great terror. The noise, however, did not waken Lady 
Delacour, who was in that dead sleep which is sometimes the 
effect of opium. The noise was louder than what could have 
been made by the fall of a book alone, and the girl descried a 
key that had fallen along with the book. It occurred to her 
that this might possibly be the key of the boudoir. From one 
of those irresistible impulses which some people make an excuse 
for doing whatever they please, she seized it, resolved at all 
hazards to open the mysterious door. She was cautiously put- 
ting the key into the keyhole, so as not to make the least noise, 
when she was suddenly startled by a voice behind her, which 
said, * Who gave you leave to open that door ? ' 

She turned, and saw Helena standing at the half-open bed- 
chamber door. 

* Mercy, Miss Delacour ! who thought of seeing you ? For 
God's sake, don*t make a noise to waken my lady ! ' 

* Did my mother desire you to go into that room ? ' repeated 
Helena. 

' Dear me ! no, miss,' said the maid, putting on her stupid 
face ; * but I only thought to open the door, to let in a little air 
to freshen the room, which my lady always likes, and bids me 
to do — and I thought ' 

Helena took the key gently from her hand without listening 
to any more of her thoughts, and the woman left the room 
muttering something about jelly and my lady, Helena went 
to the side of her mother's bed, determined to wait there till 
she awakened, then to give her the key, and tell her the circum- 
stance. Notwithstanding the real simplicity of this little girl's 
character, she was, as her mother had discovered, a nice observer^ 
and she had remarked that her mother permitted no one but 
Marriott to go into the boudoir. This remark did not excite 

X 305 



Sit iMrmd, ami ami Hiltna slatidmg al tit ialf-tptit bidchatubtr iter. 



HELENA 

her to dive into the mystery : on the contrary, she carefully 
repressed all curiosity, remembering the promise she had given 
to her mother when she talked of Zobeide and the porter. She 
had not been without temptation to break this promise ; for the 
maid who usually attended her toilette had employed every art 
in her power to stimulate her curiosity. As she was dressing 
Helena this morning, she had said to her, * The reason I was 
so late calling you, miss, this morning, was because I was so 
late myself last night ; for I went to the play, miss, last night, 
which was Bluebeard. Lord bless us ! I'm sure, if I had been 
Bluebeard's wife, I should have opened the door, if I'd died for 
it ; for to have the notion of living all day long, and all night 
too, in a house in which there was a room that one was never 
to go into, is a thing I could not put up with.' Then after a 
pause, and after waiting in vain for some reply from Helena, 
she added, < Pray, Miss Delacour, did you ever go into that 
little room within my lady's bedchamber, that Mrs. Marriott 
keeps the key of always ? ' 

* No,' said Helena. 

* I've often wondered what's in it : but then that's only 
because I'm a simpleton. I thought, to be sure, you knew.' 

Observing that Helena looked much displeased, she broke 
off her speech, hoping that what she had said would operate 
in due time, and that she should thus excite the young lady 
to get the secret from Marriott, which she had no doubt 
afterward of worming from Miss Delacour. 

In all this she calculated ill ; for what she had said only 
made Helena distrust and dislike her. It was the recollection 
of this conversation that made her follow the maid to her 
mother's bedchamber, to see what detained her there so long. 
Helena had heard Marriott say that * she ought not to run up 
and down stairs, because her lady was asleep,' and it appeared 
extraordinary that but a few minutes after this information she 
should have gone into the room with a glass of jelly in her hand. 

< Ah, mamma ! ' thought Helena, as she stood beside her 
mother's bed, * you did not understand, and perhaps you did 
not believe me, when I said that I would not try to find out 
anything that you wished me not to know. Now I hope you 
will understand me better.' 

Lady Delacour opened her eyes : * Helena,' cried she, start- 
ing up, * how came you by that key ? ' 

307 



BELINDA 

* O mother ! don't look as if you suspected me.' She then 
told her mother how the key came into her hands. 

*My dear child, you have done me an essential service,' 
said Lady Delacour : < you know not its importance, at least 
in my estimation. But what gives me infinitely more satisfac- 
tion, you have proved yourself worthy of my esteem — my love.' 

Marriott came into the room, and whispered a few words to 
her lady. 

*You may speak out, Marriott, before my Helena,' said 
Lady Delacour, rising from the bed as she spoke : * child as 
she is, Helena has deserved my confidence ; and she shall be 
convinced that, where her mother has once reason to confide, 
she is incapable of suspicion. Wait here for a few minutes, 
my dear.' 

She went to her boudoir, paid and dismissed the surgeon 
expeditiously, then returned, and taking her daughter by the 
hand, she said, * You look all simplicity, my dear ! I see you 
have no vulgar, schoolgirl curiosity. You will have all your 
mother's strength of mind ; may you never have any of her 
faults, or any of her misfortunes ! I speak to you not as to 
a child, Helena, for you have reason far above your years; 
and you will remember what I now say to you as long as you 
live. You will possess talents, beauty, fortune ; you will be 
admired, followed, and flattered, as I have been : but do not 
throw away your life as I have thrown away mine — to win the 
praise of fools. Had I used but half the talents I possess, as 
I hope you will use yours, I might have been an ornament to 
my sex — I might have been a Lady Anne Percival.' 

Here Lady Delacour's voice failed ; but conmianding her 
emotion, she in a few moments went on speaking. 

* Choose your friends well, my dear daughter ! It was my 
misfortune, my folly, early in life to connect myself with a 
woman, who under the name of frolic led me into every species 
of mischief. You are too young, too innocent, to hear the 
particulars of my history now ; but you will hear them all at 
a proper time from my best friend. Miss Portman. I shall 
leave you to her care, my dear, when I die.' 

* When you die ! — O mother ! ' said Helena, * but why do 
you talk of dying ? ' and she threw her arms round her mother. 

* Gently, my love ! ' said Lady Delacour, shrinking back ; 
and she seized this moment to explain to her daughter why 

308 



HELENA 

she shrunk in this manner from her caresses, and why she. 
talked of dying. 

Helena was excessively shocked. 

* I wished, my dear,' resumed her mother calmly, * I wished 
to have spared you the pain of knowing all this. I have given 
you but little pleasure in my life ; it is unjust to give you so 
much pain. We shall go to Twickenham to-morrow, and I 
will leave you with your aunt Margaret, my dear, till all is 
over. If I die, Belinda will take you with her immediately to 
Oakley Park — you shall have as little sorrow as possible. If 
you had shown me less of your affectionate temper, you would 
have spared yourself the anguish that you now feel, and you 
would have spared me ' 

* My dear, kind mother,* interrupted Helena, throwing 
herself on her knees at her mother's feet, *do not send me 
away from you — I don't wish to go to my aunt Margaret — 
I don't wish to go to Oakly Park — I wish to stay with you. 
Do not send me away from you ; for I shall suffer ten times 
more if I am not with you, though I know I can be of no use.' 

Overcome by her daughter's entreaties. Lady Delacour at 
last consented that she should remain with her, and that she 
should accompany her to Twickenham. 

The remainder of this day was taken up in preparations for 
their departure. The stupid maid was immediately dismissed. 
No questions were asked, and no reasons for her dismissal 
assigned, except that Lady Delacour had no farther occasion 
for her services. Marriott alone was to attend her lady to 
Twickenham. Lord Delacour^ it was settled, should stay in 
town, lest the unusual circumstance of his attending his lady 
should excite public curiosity. His lordship, who was natur- 
ally a good-natured man, and who had been touched by the 
kindness his wife had lately shown him, was in extreme agitation 
during the whole of this day, which he thought might possibly 
be the last of her existence. She, on the contrary, was calm 
and collected ; her courage seemed to rise with the necessity 
for its exertion. 

In the morning, when the carriage came to the door, as she 
parted with Lord Delacour, she put into his hand a paper that 
contained some directions and requests with which, she said, 
she hoped that he would comply, if they should prove to be 
her last The paper contained only some legacies to her 

309 



BELINDA 

servants, a provision for Marriott, and a bequest to her excellent 
and beloved friend, Belinda Portman, of the cabinet in which 
she kept Clarence Herve/s letters. 

Interlined in this place, Lady Delacour had written these 
words : * My daughter is nobly provided for ; and lest any doubt 
or difficulty should arise from the omission, I think it necessary 
to mention that the said cabinet contains the valuable jewels 
left to me by my late uncle, and that it is my intention that 
the said jewels should be part of my bequest to the said 
Belinda Portman. — If she marry a man of good fortune, she 
will wear them for my sake : if she do not marry an opulent 
husband, I hope she will sell the jewels without scruple, as 
they are intended for her convenience, and not as an ostentatious 
bequest. It is fit that she should be as independent in her 
circumstances as she is in her mind.' 

Lord Delacour with much emotion looked over this paper, 

and assured her ladyship that she should be obeyed, if 

He could say no more. 

* Farewell, then, my lord ! ' said she : * keep up your spirits, 
for I intend to live many years yet to try them.' 



CHAPTER XXII 

A SPECTRE 

The surgeon who was to attend Lady Delacour was prevented 
from going to her on the day appointed ; he was one of the 
surgeons of the queen's household, and his attendance was 
required at the palace. This delay was extremely irksome to 
Lady Delacour, who had worked up her courage to the highest 
point, but who had not prepared herself to endure suspense. 
She spent nearly a week at Twickenham in this anxious state, 
and Belinda observed that she every day became more and 
more thoughtful and reserved. She seemed as if she had 
some secret subject of meditation, from which she could not 
bear to be distracted. When Helena was present, she exerted 
herself to converse in her usual sprightly strain ; but as soon 
as she could escape, as she thought, unobserved, she would 

310 



A SPECTRE 

shut herself up in her own apartment, and remain there for 
hours. 

* I wish to heaven, Miss Portman,* said Marriott, coming 
one morning into her room with a portentous face, * I wish to 
heaven, ma'am, that you could any way persuade my lady not 
to spend so many hours of the day and night as she does in 
reading those methodistical books that she keeps to herself ! — 
Pm sure that they do her no good, but a great deal of harm, 
especially now when her spirits should be kept up as much as 
possible. I am sensible, ma'am, that 'tis those books that 
have made my lady melancholy of a sudden. Ma'am, my 
lady has let drop very odd hints within these two or three 
days, and she speaks in a strange disconnected sort of style^ . 
and at times I do not think she is quite right in her head.' 

When Belinda questioned Marriott more particularly about 
the strange hints which her lady had let fall, she with looks of 
embarrassment and horror declined repeating the words that 
had been said to her; yet persisted in asserting that Lady 
Delacour had been very strange for these two or three days. 
* And Pm sure, ma'am, you'd be shocked if you were to see 
my lady in a morning, when she wakens, or rather when I 
first go into the room — ^for, as to wakening, that's out of the 
question. I am certain she does not sleep during the whole 
night You'll find, ma'am, it is as I tell you, those books will 
quite turn her poor head, and I wish they were burnt. I 
know the mischief that the same sort of things did to a poor 
cousin of my own, who was driven melancholy mad by a 
methodist preacher, and came to an untimely end. Oh, 
ma'am ! if you knew as much as I do, you'd be as much 
alarmed for my lady as I am.' 

It was impossible to prevail upon Marriott to explain herself 
more distinctly. The only circumstances that could be drawn 
from her seemed to Belinda so trifling as to be scarcely worth 
mentioning. For instance, that Lady Delacour, contrary to 
Marriott's advice, had insisted on sleeping in a bedchamber 
upon the ground floor, and had refused to let a curtain be put 
up before a glass door that was at the foot of her bed. * When 
I offered to put up the curtain, ma'am,' said Marriott, *my 
lady said she liked the moonlight, and that she would not 
have it put up till the fine nights were over. Now, Miss 
Portman, to hear my lady talk of the moon, and moonlights, 



BELINDA 

and liking the moon, is rather extraordinary and unaccount- 
able ; for I never heard her say anything of the sort in her 
life before j I question whether she ever knew there was a 
moon or not from one year's end to another. But they say 
the moon has a great deal to do with mad people ; and, from 
my own experience, Pm perfectly sensibte, ma'am, it had in 
my own cousin's case ; for, before he came to the worst, he 
took a prodigious fancy to the moon, and was always for 
walking by moonlight, and talking to one of the beauty of the 
moon, and such melancholy nonsense, ma'am.' 

Belinda could not forbear smiling at this melancholy non- 
sense ; though she was inclined to be of Marriott's opinion 
about the methodistical books, and she determined to talk to 
Lady Delacour on the subject. The moment that she made 
the attempt, her ladyship, commanding her countenance with 
her usual ability, replied only by cautious, cold monosyllables, 
and changed the conversation as soon as she could. 

At night, when they were retiring to rest, Marriott, as she 
lighted them to their rooms, observed that she was afraid her 
lady would suffer from sleeping in so cold a bedchamber, and 
Belinda pressed her friend to change her apartment. 

* No, my dear,' replied Lady Delacour calmly. * I have 
chosen this for my bedchamber, because it is at a distance from 
the servants' rooms ; and wl\en the operation^ which I have to 
go through, shall be performed, my cries, if I should utter any, 
will not be overheard. The surgeon will be here in a few days, 
and it is not worth while to make any change.' 

The next day, towards evening, the surgeon and Dr. X 

arrived. Belinda's blood ran cold at the sight of them. 

* Will you be so kind. Miss Portman,' said Marriott, * as to 
let my lady know that they are come ? for I am not well able 
to go, and you can speak more composed to her than I can.' 

Miss Portman went to Lady Delacour's bedchamber. The 
door was bolted. As Lady Delacour opened it, she fixed her 
eyes upon Belinda, and said to her with a mild voice, ' You are 
come to tell me that the surgeon is arrived. I knew that by 
the manner in which you knocked at the door. I will see him 
this moment,' continued she, in a firm tone ; and she de- 
liberately put a mark in the book which she had been reading, 
walked leisurely to the other end of the room, and locked it 
up in her book-case. There was an air of determined dignity 

312 



A SPECTRE 

in all her motions. 'Shall we go? I am ready/ said she, 
holding out her hand to Belinda, who had sunk upon a 
chair. 

' One would think that you were the person that was going 
to suffer. But drink this water, my dear, and do not tremble 
for me ; you see that I do not tremble for myself. Listen to 
me, dearest Belinda ! I owe it to your friendship not to 
torment you with unnecessary apprehensions. Your humanity 
shall be spared this dreadful scene.' 

< No,' said Belinda, < Marriott is incapable of attending you. 
I must — I will — I am ready now. Forgive me one moment's 
weakness. I admire, and will imitate, your courage. I will 
keep my promise.' 

* Your promise was to be with me in my dying moments, 
and to let me breathe my last in your arms.' 

* I hope that I shall never be called upon to perform that 
promise.' 

Lady Delacour made no answer, but walked on before her 

with steady steps into the room where Dr. X and the 

surgeon were waiting. Without adverting in the least to the 
object of their visit, she paid her compliments to them, as if 
they came on a visit of mere civility. Without seeming to 
notice the serious countenances of her companions, she talked 
of indifferent subjects with the most perfect ease, occupying 
herself all the time with cleaning a seal, which she unhooked 
from her watch-chain. * This seal,' said she, turning to Dr. 

X , * is a fine onyx — it is a head of Esculapius. I have a 

great value for it. It was given to me by your friend, Clarence 
Hervey ; and I have left it in my will, doctor,' continued she, 
smiling, * to you, as no slight token of my regard. He is an 
excellent young man ; and I request,' said she, drawing Dr. 

X to a window, and lowering her voice, * I request, when 

you see him again, and when I am out of the way, that you 
will tell him such were my sentiments to the hour of my death. 
Here is a letter which you will have the goodness to put into 
his hands, sealed with my favourite seal. You need have no 
scruple to take charge of it ; it relates not to myself. It 
expresses only my opinion concerning a lady who stands 
almost as high in your esteem, I believe, as she does in mine. 
My affection and my gratitude have not biassed my judgment 
in the advice which I have ventured to give to Mr. Hervey.' 



BELINDA 

*But he will soon be here,' interrupted Dr. X , *and 

then ' 

* And then I shall be gone/ said Lady Delacour coolly, 

* To that undiscovered country, 
From whose bourn no traveller returns.' 

Dr. X was going to interrupt her, but she continued 

rapidly, *And now, my dear doctor, tell me candidly, have 
you seen any symptoms of cowardice in my manner this 
evening ? ' 

'None,' replied he. *0n the contrary, I have admired 
your calm self-possession.' 

*Then do not suspect me of want of fortitude, when I 
request that this operation may not be performed to-day. I 
have changed my mind within these few hours. I have deter- 
mined, for a reason which I am sure that you would feel to be 
sufficient, to postpone this affair till to-morrow. Believe me, 
I do not act from caprice.' 

She saw that Dr. X did not yield assent to her last 

assertion, and that he looked displeased. 

*I will tell you my reason,' said she; *and then you will 
have no right to be displeased if I persist, as I shall inflexibly, 
in my determination. It is my belief that I shall die this 
night. To submit to a painful operation to-day would be only 
to sacrifice the last moments of my existence to no purpose. 
If I survive this night, manage me as you please ! But I am 
the best judge of my own feelings — I shall die to-night' 

Dr. X looked at her with a mixture of astonishment 

and compassion. Her pulse was high, she was extremely 
feverish, and he thought that the best Uiing which he could do 
was to stay with her till the next day, and to endeavour to 
divert her mind from this fancy, which he considered as an 
insane idea. He prevailed upon the surgeon to stay with her 
till the next morning ; and he communicated his intentions to 
Belinda, who joined with him in doing all that was possible to 
entertain and interest her by conversation during the remainder 
of the day. She had sufficient penetration to perceive that 
they gave not the least faith to her prognostic, and she never 
siaid one word more upon the subject ; but appeared willing to 
be amused by their attempts to divert her, and resolute to 
support her courage to the last moment. She did not affisct 

314 



A SPECTRE 



I 



trifling gaiety : on the contrary, there was in all she said more 
strength and less point than usual. 

The evening passed away, and Lady Delacour seemed 
totally to have forgotten her own prophecy respecting the event 
of the ensuing night ; so much so, that she spoke of several 
things that she intended to do the next day. Helena knew 
nothing of what had passed, and Belinda imagined that her 
friend put this constraint upon herself to avoid alarming her 
daughter. Yet, after Helena retired, her mother's manner 

continued to be so much the same, that Dr. X began to 

believe that her ladyship was actuated merely by caprice. In 
this opinion she confirmed him by bursting out a-laughing 
when he proposed that some one should sit up with her during 
the night. 

* My sage sir,' said she, * have you lived to this time without 
ever having been duped by a woman before ? I wanted a 
day's reprieve, and I have gained it — gained a day, spent in 
most agreeable conversation, for which I thank you. To- 
morrow,' said she, turning to the surgeon, * I must invent some 
new excuse for my cowardice ; and though I give you notice 
of it beforehand, as Barrington did when he picked the man's 
pocket, yet, nevertheless, I shall succeed. Good-night ! ' 

She hurried to her own apartment, leaving them all in 
astonishment and perplexity. Belinda was persuaded that she 

only affected this gaiety to prevent Dr. X from insisting 

upon sitting up in her room, as he had proposed. Dr. X , 

judging, as he said, from her ladyship's general character, 
attributed the whole to caprice ; and the surgeon, judging, as 
he said, from human nature in general, was decided in his 
belief that she had been influenced, as she herself declared, by 
cowardice. After having all expressed their opinions, without 
making any impression upon one another, they retired to rest. 

Belinda's bedchamber was next to Helena's ; and after she 
had been in bed about an hour, she fancied that she heard 
some one walking softly in the next room. She rose, and 
found Lady Delacour standing beside her daughter's bed. She 
started at the sight of Belinda, but only said in a low voice, as 
she pointed to her child, * Don't waken her.' She then looked 
at her for some moments in silence. The moon shone full 
upon her face. She stooped over Helena, parted the ringlets 
of hair upon her forehead, and kissed her gently, 

315 



BELINDA 

'You will be good to this poor girl when I am gone, 
Belinda ! ' said she, turning away from her as she spoke : < I 
only came to look at her for the last time.' 

* Are you then serious, my dear Lady Delacour ? ' 

* Hush 1 Don't waken her,' said Lady Delacour, putting 
her finger on her lips ; and walking slowly out of the room, 
she forbade Belinda to follow. 

* If my fears be vain,' said she, * why should I disturb you 
with them ? If they be just, you will hear my bell ring, and 
then come to me.' 

For some time afterward all was perfectly silent in the 
house. Belinda did not go to bed, but sat waiting and listen- 
ing anxiously. The clock struck two ; and as she heard no 
other sound, she began to hope that she had suffered herself 
to be falsely alarmed by a foolish imagination, and she lay 
down upon her bed, resolving to compose herself to rest. She 
was just sinking to sleep, when she thought she heard the faint 
sound of a bell. She was not sure whether she was dreaming 
or awake. She started up and listened. All was silent. But 
in a few minutes Lady Delacour's bell rang violently. Belinda 
flew to her room. The surgeon was already there ; he had 
been sitting up in the next room to write letters, and he had 
heard the first sound of the bell. Lady Delacour was sense- 
less, supported in the surgeon's arms. Belinda, by his direc- 
tions, ran immediately for Dr. X , who was at the other 

end of the house. Before she returned. Lady Delacour had 
recovered her senses. She begged that the surgeon would 

leave the room, and that neither Dr. X nor Marriott might 

be yet admitted, as she had something of importance to com- 
municate to Miss Portman. The surgeon withdrew, and she 
beckoned to Belinda, who sat down upon the side of her bed. 
Lady Delacour held out her hand to her ; it was covered with 
a cold dew. 

* My dear friend,' said she, * my prophecy is accomplishing 
— I know I must die.' 

* The surgeon said that you were not in the least danger, 
my dear Lady Delacour ; that it was merely a fainting fit. Do 
not suffer a vain imagination thus to overpower your reason.' 

* It is no vain imagination — I must die,' said Lady Delacour. 

* I hear a voice you cannot hear, 
Which says I must not stay ; 

316 



A SPECTRE 

I see a hand you cannot see. 
Which beckons me away. 

You perceive that I am in my perfect senses, my dear, or I 
could not quote poetry. I am not insane — I am not delirious.' 
She paused — < I am ashamed to tell you what I know will 
expose me to your ridicule.' 

* Ridicule ! ' cried Belinda : * can you think me so cruel as 
to consider your sufferings a subject for ridicule ? ' 

Lady Delacour was overcome by the tenderness with which 
Belinda spoke. 

* I will then speak to you,' said she, * without reserve. In- 
consistent as it is with the strength of mind which you might 
expect from me, I cannot resist the impression which has been 
made on my mind by — a vision.' 

* A vision ! ' 

'Three times,' continued Lady Delacour, *it has appeared 
to me about this hour. The first night after we came here I 
saw it ; last night it returned ; and to-night I have beheld it 
for the third time. I consider it as a warning to prepare for 
death. You are surprised — you are incredulous. I know that 
this must appear to you extravagant ; but depend upon it that 
what I tell you is true. It is scarcely a quarter of an hour 

since I beheld the figure of , that man for whose untimely 

death I am answerable. Whenever I dose my eyes the same 
form appears before me.' 

* These visions,' said Belinda, *are certainly the effects of 
opiiun.' 

* The forms that flit before my eyes when I am between 
sleeping and waking,' said Lady Delacour, * I am willing to 
believe, are the effects of opium ; but, Belinda, it is impossible 
I should be convinced that my senses have deceived me with 
respect to what I have beheld when I have been as broad 
awake, and in as perfect possession of my understanding as I 
am at this instant. The habits of my life, and the natural 
gaiety, not to say levity, of my temper, have always inclined 
me rather to incredulity than to superstition. But there are 
things which no strength of mind, no temerity can resist. I 
repeat it — this is a warning to me to prepare for death. No 
human means, no human power can save me 1 ' 

Here they were interrupted by Marriott, who could no 
longer be restrained from bursting into the room. Dr. X 

317 



BELINDA 

followed, and going calmly to the side of Lady Delacour*s bed, 
took her hand to feel her pulse. 

* Mrs. Marriott, you need not alarm yourself in this manner,' 
said he : ' your lady is at this instant in as little danger as 
I am.' 

* You think she'll live ! O my lady ! why did you terrify 
us in this manner ? ' 

Lady Delacour smiled, and calmly said, as Dr. X still 

continued to count her pulse, *The pulse may deceive you, 
doctor, but I do not. Marriott, you may ' 

Belinda heard no more; for at this instant, as she was 
standing alone, near the glass-door that was opposite to the 
bed, she saw at a distance in the garden the figure which Lady 
Delacour had described. Lady Delacour was now so intent 

upon speaking to Dr. X , that she saw nothing but him. 

Belinda had the presence of mind to be perfectly silent. The 
figure stood still for some moments. She advanced a few 
steps nearer to the window, and the figure vanished. She kept 
her eye steadily fixed upon the spot where it had disappeared, 
and she saw it rise again and glide quickly behind some 

bushes. Belinda beckoned to Dr. X , who perceived by 

the eagerness of her manner that she wished to speak to him 
immediately. He resigned his patient to Marriott, and followed 
Miss Portman out of the room. She told him what she had 
just seen, said it was of the utmost consequence to Lady 
Delacour to have the truth ascertained, and requested that Dr. 

X would go with some of the men-servants and search the 

garden, to discover whether any one was there concealed, or 
whether any footsteps could be traced. The doctor did not 
search long before he perceived footsteps in the borders 
opposite to the glass-door of Lady Delacour's bedchamber ; he 
was carefully following their track, when he heard a loud cry, 
which seemed to come from the other side of the garden wall. 
There was a breach in the wall over which he scrambled 
with some difficulty. The screams continued with redoubled 
violence. As he was making his way to the spot from which 
they proceeded, he was met by the old gardener, who was 
crossing one of the walks with a lantern in his hand. 

* Ho ! ho ! ' cried the gardener, * I take it that we have the 
thief at last. I fancy that the fellow whose footsteps I traced, 
and who has been at my morello cherry-tree every night, has 

318 



A SPECTRE 

been caught in the trap. I hope his leg is not broke, though ! 
— This way, sir — this way ! ' 

The gardener led the doctor to the place, and there they 
found a man, whose leg had actually been caught in the spring- 
trap which had been set for the defence of the cherry-tree. 
The man had by this time fallen into a swoon ; they extricated 

him as fast as possible, and Doctor X had him brought to 

Lady Delacour's in order that the surgeon, who was there, 
might see his leg. 

As they were carrying him across the hall, BeHnda met 
them. She poured out a glass of water for the man, who was 
just recovering from his swoon ; but as she went nearer to give 
it him, she was struck with his wonderful resemblance to 
Harriot Freke. 

* It must be Mrs. Freke herself ! ' whispered she to Marriott, 
whose wide opening eyes, at this instant, fixed themselves 
upon her. 

* It must be Mrs. Freke herself, ma'am ! ' repeated Marriott 
And so in fact it was. 

There is a certain class of people, who are incapable of 
generous confidence in their equals, but who are disposed to 
yield implicit credit to the underhand information of mean 
emissaries. Through the medium of Champfort and the stupid 
mcddy Mrs. Freke had learned a confused story of a man's 
footsteps having been heard in Lady Delacour's boudoir, of 
his being let in by Marriott secretly, of his having remained 
locked up there for several hours, and of the maid's having 
been turned away, merely because she innocently went to 
open the door whilst the gentleman was in concealment. Mrs. 
Freke was farther informed, by the same unquestionable 
authority, that Lady Delacour had taken a house at Twicken- 
ham, for the express purpose of meeting her lover : that Miss 
Portman and Marriott were the only persons who were to be 
of this party of pleasure. 

Upon the faith of this intelligence, Mrs. Freke, who had 
accompanied Mrs. Luttridge to town, immediately repaired to 
Twickenham, to pay a visit to a third cousin, that she might 
have an opportunity of detecting the intrigues, and afterwards 
of publishing the disgrace, of her former friend. The desire 
of revenging herself upon Miss Portman, for having declined 
her civilities at Harrowgate, had also a powerful influence in 

319 



BELINDA 

stimulating her malicious activity. She knew that if it were 
proved that Belinda was the confidante of Lady Delacour's 
intrigues, her reputation must be materially injured, and that 
the Percivals would then be as desirous to break off as they 
now were anxious to promote the match with Mr. Vincent. 
Charmed with this hope of a double triumph, the vindictive 
lady commenced her operations, nor was she ashamed to 
descend to the character of a spy. The general and con- 
venient name oi frolic^ she thought, would cover every species 
of meanness. She swore that * it was charming fun to equip 
herself at night in men's clothes, and to sally forth to recon- 
noitre the motions of the enemy.' 

By an unfrequented path she used to gain the window that 
looked into Lady Delacour's bedchamber. This was the figure 
which appeared at night at a certain hour, and which, to her 
ladyship's disturbed imagination, seemed to be the form of 
Colonel Lawless. There was, indeed, a resemblance in their 
size and persons, which favoured the delusion. For several 
nights Mrs. Freke paid these visits without obtaining any 
satisfaction \ but this night she thought herself overpaid for 
her exertions, by the charming discovery which she fancied 
she had made. She mistook the surgeon for a lover of Lady 
Delacour's ; and she was hurrying home with the joyful in- 
telligence, when she was caught in the gardener's trap. The 
agony that she suffered was at first intense, but in a few hours 
the pain somewhat subsided ; and in this interval of rest she 
turned to Belinda, and with a malicious smile said, — 'Miss 
Portman, 'tis fair I should pay for my peeping ; but I shall 
not pay quite so dear for it as some of my friends.' 

Miss Portman did not in the least comprehend her, till she 
added, * I'm sure you'll allow that 'tis 4)etter for a lady to lose 
her leg than her reputation — and for my part I'd rather be 
caught in a man trap, than have a man caught in my bed- 
chamber. My service to your friend, Lady Delacour, and tell 
her so.' 

* And do you know who that gentleman was, that you saw 
in her ladyship's room ? ' 

* Not I, not yet ; but I'll make it my business to find out. 
I give you fair notice ; I'm a very devil when provoked. Why 
didn't you make me your friend when you could ? — You'll not 
bafHe me. I have seen all I wanted, and I am capable of 

320 



A SPECTRE 

painting all I saw. As to who the man might be, that's no 
matter ; one Lothario is as good as another for my purpose.' 

Longer had Mrs. Freke spoken with malignant triumph, 
had she not been interrupted by a burst of laughter from the 
surgeon. Her vexation was indescribable when he informed 
her that he was the man whom she had seen in Lady Dela- 
courts bedchamber, and whom she had mistaken for a favoured 
lover. 

Mrs. Freke's leg was much cut and bruised ; and now that 
she was no longer supported by the hopes of revenge, she 
began to lament loudly and incessantly the injury that she had 
sustained. She impatiently inquired how long it was probable 
that she should be confined by this accident ; and she grew 
quite outrageous when it was hinted, that the beauty of her 
legs would be spoiled, and that she would never more be able 
to appear to advantage in man's apparel. The dread of being 
seen by Lady Delacour in the deplorable yet ludicrous situation 
to which she had reduced herself operated next upon her mind, 
and every time the door of the apartment opened, she looked 
with terror towards it, expecting to see her ladyship appear. 
But though Lady Delacour heard from Marriott immediately 
the news of Mrs. Freke's disaster, she never disturbed her by 
her presence. She was too generous to insult a fallen foe. 

Early in the morning Mrs. Freke was by her own desire 
conveyed to her cousin's house, where without regret we shall 
leave her to suffer the consequences of her frolic. 

* A false prophetess ! Notwithstanding all my visions, I 
have outlived the night, you see,' said Lady Delacour to Miss 
^ 5 Portman when they met in the morning. * I have heard, my 
^ ^ dear Belinda, and I believe, that the passion of love, which 
"" - can endure caprice, vice, wrinkles, deformity, poverty, nay, 
disease itself, is notwithstanding so squeamish as to be instan- 
taneously disgusted by the perception of folly in the object 
beloved. I hope friendship, though akin to love, is of a more 
< robust constitution, else what woufd become of me ? My folly, 
"^' and my visions, and my spectre — oh, that I had not exposed 
myself to you in this manner ! Harriot Freke herself is 
scarcely more contemptible. Spies and cowards are upon an 
equal footing. Her malice and her frolic are consistent with 
her character, but my fears and my superstition are totally 
inconsistent with mine. Forget the nonsense I talked to you 
Y 321 









\ ' .'/ ■ ^, • ^ 



A \. / 



^ 






/ h'i 



K 



:\ 



S/u sat dewt IrtmbUng ex tht lUps vihich lidlelur itioli 



A SPECTRE 

last night, my dear, or fancy that I was then under the 
dominion of laudanum. This morning you shall see Lady 

Delacour herself again. Is Dr. X , is the surgeon ready ? 

Where are they ? I am prepared. My fortitude shall redeem 
me in your opinion, Belinda, and in my own.' 

Dr. X and the surgeon immediately obeyed her 

summons. 

Helena heard them go into Lady Delacour's room, and she 
saw by Marriott's countenance, who followed, that her mother 
was going to submit to the operation. She sat down trembling 
on the steps which led to her mother's room, and waited there 
a long time, as she thought, in the most painful suspense. At 
last she heard some one call Helena. She looked up, and saw 
her father close to her. 

* Helena,' said he, * how is your mother ? ' 

* I don't know. O papa, you cannot go in there now^^ 
said Helena, stopping him as he was pressing forwards. 

* Why did not you or Miss Portman write to me yesterday, 
as you promised ? ' said Lord Delacour, in a voice that showed 
he was scarcely able to ask the question. 

* Because, papa, we had nothing to tell you : nothing was 
done yesterday. But the surgeon is now there,' said Helena, 
pointing towards her mother's room. 

Lord Delacour stood motionless for an instant ; then 
suddenly seizing his daughter's hand, * Let us go,' said he : * if 
we stay here, we shall hear her screams ; ' and he was hurry- 
ing her away, when the door of Lady Delacour's apartment 
opened, and Belinda appeared, her countenance radiant with joy. 

* Good news, dear Helena ! O my lord ! you are come 
in a happy moment — I give you joy.' 

* Joy ! joy I joy ! ' cried Marriott, following. 

* Is it all over ? ' said Lord Delacour. 

* And without a single shriek ! ' said Helena. * What 
courage ! ' 

* There's no need of shrieks, or courage either, thank God,' 

said Marriott. * Dr. X says so, and he is the best man 

in the world, and the cleverest. And I was right from the 
first ; I said it was impossible my lady should have such a 
shocking complaint as she thought she had. There's no such 
thing at all in the case, my lord I I said so always, till I was 
persuaded out of my senses by that villainous quack, who con- 

323 



Btlinda affiartd, lar or 



A SPECTRE 

tradicted me for his own 'molument. And Doctor X 

says, if my lady will leave off the terrible quantities of 
laudanum she takes, he*ll engage for her recovery.' 

The surgeon and Dr. X now explained to Lord Dela- 

cour that the unprincipled wretch to whom her ladyship had 
applied for assistance had persuaded her that she had a 
cancer, though in fact her complaint arose merely from the 
bruise which she had received. He knew too well how to 
make a wound hideous and painful, and so continue her 

delusion for his own advantage. Dr. X observed, that if 

Lady Delacour would have permitted either the surgeon or 
him to have examined sooner into the real state of the case, it 
would have saved herself infinite pain, and them all anxiety. 
Belinda at this moment felt too much to speak. 

* I'm morally certain,' cried Marriott, * Mr. Champfort 
would die with vexation, if he could see the joy that's painted 
in my lord's face this minute. And we may thank Miss Port- 
man for this, for 'twas she made everything go right, and I 
never expected to live to see so happy a day.' 

Whilst Marriott ran on in this manner with all the 
volubility of joy, Lord Delacour passed her with some difficulty, 
and Helena was in her mother's arms in an instant. 

Lady Delacour, struck to the heart by their affectionate 
looks and words, burst into tears. * How little have I deserved 
this kindness from you, my lord ! or from you, my child 1 But 
my feelings,' added she, wiping away her tears, * shall not 
waste themselves in tears, nor in vain thanks. My actions, 
the whole course of my future life, shall show that I am not 
quite a brute. Even brutes are won by kindness. Observe, 
my lord,' continued she, smiling, * I said won^ not tamed! — A 
tame Lady Delacour would be a sorry animal, not worth look- 
ing at. Were she even to become domesticated, she would 
fare the worse.' 

* How so ? — How so, my dear ? ' said Lord Delacour and 
Belinda almost in the same breath. 

* How so ? — Why, if Lady Delacour were to wash off her 
rouge, and lay aside her air, and be as gentle, good, and kind 
as Belinda Portman, for instance, her lord would certainly say 
to her, 

* So alter'd are your face and mind, ' * 

'Twere perjury to love you now. ' 

32s ^ 



BELINDA 



CHAPTER XXIII 

THE CHAPLAIN 

In some minds, emotions of joy are always connected with 
feelings of benevolence and generosity. Lady Delacour's 
heart expanded with the sensations of friendship and gratitude, 
now that she was relieved from those fears by which she had 
so long been oppressed. 

* My dear daughter,' said she to Helena, * have you at this 
instant any wish that I can gratify ? — Ask anything you please, 
the fairy Goodwill shall contrive to get it for you in a trice. 
You have thought of a wish at this moment, I know, by your 
eyes, by your blush. Nay, do not hesitate. Do you doubt me 
because I do not appear before you in the shape of a little ugly 
woman, like Cinderella's godmother? or do you despise me 
because you do not see a wand waving in my hand ? — " Ah, 
little skilled of fairy lore ! " know that I am in possession of a 
talisman that can command more than ever fairy granted. 
Behold my talisman,' continued she, drawing out her purse, 
and showing the gold through the net-work. * Speak boldly, 
then,' cried she to Helena, * and be obeyed.' 

* Ah, mamma,' said Helena, * I was not thinking of what 
fairies or gold can give ; but you can grant my wish, and if 
you will let me, I will whisper it to you.' 

Lady Delacour stooped to hear her daughter's whisper. 

*Your wish is granted, my own grateful, charming girl,' 
said her mother. 

Helena's wish was, that her mother could be reconciled to 
her good aunt, Margaret Delacour. 

Her ladyship sat down instantly, and wrote to Mrs. Dela- 
cour. Helena was the bearer of this letter, and Lady Dela- 
cour promised to wait upon this excellent old lady as soon as 
she should return to town. 

In the meantime her ladyship's health rapidly improved 

under the skilful care of Dr. X ; it had been terribly 

injured by the ignorance and villany of the wretch' to whom 
she had so long and so rashly trusted. The nostrums which 

326 



THE CHAPLAIN 

he persuaded her to take, and the immoderate use of opium to 
which she accustomed herself, would have ruined her constitu- 
tion, had it not been uncommonly strong. Dr. X re- 
commended it to her ladyship to abstain gradually from opium, 
and this advice she had the resolution to follow with uninter- 
rupted perseverance. 

The change in Lady Delacour's manner of life, in the 
hours and the company that she kept, contributed much to her 
recovery.^ She was no longer in continual anxiety to conceal 
the state of her health from the world. She had no secret to 
keep — no part to act ; her reconciliation with her husband and 
with his friends restored her mind to ease and self-complacency. 
Her little Helena was a source of daily pleasure ; and no 
longer conscious of neglecting her daughter, she no longer 
feared that the affections of her child should be alienated. 

Dr. X , well aware that the passions have a powerful 

influence over the body, thought it full as necessary, in some 
cases, to attend to the mind as to the pulse. By conversing 
with Lady Delacour, and by combining hints and circum- 
stances, he soon discovered what had lately been the course of 
her reading, and what impression it had made on her imagina- 
tion. Mrs. Marriott, indeed, assisted him with her opinion 
concerning t^e fnethodistical books ; and when he recollected 
the forebodings of death which her ladyship had felt, and the 
terror with which she had been seized on the night of Mrs. 
Freke's adventure, he was convinced that superstitious horrors 
hung upon his patient's spirits, and affected her health. To 
argue on religious subjects was not his province, much less his 
inclination ; but he was acquainted with a person qualified by 
his profession and his character 'to minister to a mind 
diseased,' and he resolved on the first favourable opportunity 
to introduce this gentleman to her ladyship. 

One morning Lady Delacour was complaining to Belinda, 
that the books in the library were in dreadful confusion. * My 
lord has really a very fine library,' said she ; * but I wish he 
had half as many books twice as well arranged : I never can 

find anything I want. Dr. X , I wish to heaven you 

could recommend a librarian to my lord — not a chaplain, 
observe.' 

^ We spare the reader the medical journal of Lady Delacour's health S' \ \ 

for some months. Her recovery was gradual and complete. 



\). 



ft \ 



I 



I 



BELINDA 

* Why not a chaplain, may I ask your ladyship ? ' said the 
doctor. 

* Oh, because we had once a chaplain, who gave me a surfeit 
of the whole tribe. The meanest sycophant, yet the most im- 
pertinent busybody — always cringing, yet always intriguing — 
wanting to govern the whole family, and at the same time every 
creature's humble servant — fawning to my lord the bishop, 
insolent to the poor curate — anathematising all who differed from 
him in opinion, yet without dignity to enforce the respect due 
to his faith or his profession — greedy for preferment, yet with- 
out a thought of the duties of his office. It was the common 
practice of this man to leap from his horse at the church door 
on a holiday, after following a pack of hounds, huddle on his 
surplice, and gabble over the service with the most indecent 
mockery of religion. Do I speak with acrimony ? I have 
reason. It was this chaplain who first led my lord to New- 
market ; it was he who first taught my lord to drink. Then he 
was a wit — an insufferable wit. His conversation after he had 
drank was such as no woman but Harriot Freke could under- 
stand, and such as few gentlemen could hear. I have never, 
alas ! been thought a prude, but in the heyday of my youth 
and gaiety, this man always disgusted me. In one word, he 
was a buck parson. I hope you have as great a horror for 
this species of animal as I have ? ' 

* Full as great,' replied Dr. X ; * but I consider them 

as monsters, which belonging to no species, can disgrace 
none.' 

* They ought to be hunted by common consent out of civil- 
ised society,' said Lady Delacour. 

* They are by public opinion banished from all rational 
society ; and your ladyship's just indignation proves that they 
have no chance of being tolerated by fashion. But would it 
not allow such beings too much consequence, would it not 
extend their power to do mischief, if we perceived that one 
such person could disgust Lady Delacour with the whole race 
of chaplains ? ' , 

* It is uncommon,' replied her ladyship, *to hear a physician 
earnest in the defence of the clergy — and a literary philosophic 
physician too ! Shall we have an eulogium upon bishops as 
well as chaplains ?' 

* We have had that already,' replied Dr. X . * All 

328 



fii amimn pmilici o/tkli man Is leaf from hit inrst al Ui cXuni e 

»MUay, tt/Ur/slimihtf a piKk o/ kminitt, Imddk m hit mrfKct, 

BtdiobbU ever lie itrvia. 



BELINDA 

ranks, persuasions, and descriptions of people, including, I 
hope, those stigmatised by the name of philosophers, have 
joined in admiration of the bishop of St. Pol de Leon. The 
conduct of the real martyrs to their faith amongst the French 
clergy, not even the most witty or brutal sceptic could ridicule.' 

* You surprise me, doctor ! ' said Lady Delacour ; * for I 
assure you that you have the character of being very liberal in 
your opinions.' 

* I hope I am liberal in my opinions,' replied the doctor, 
* and that I give your ladyship a proof of it.' 

*You would not then persecute a man or woman with 
ridicule for believing more than you do ? ' said Lady Delacour. 

* Those who persecute, to overturn religion, can scarcely 
pretend to more philosophy, or more liberality, than those who 
persecute to support it,' said Dr. X . 

* Perhaps, doctor, you are only speaking popularly ? * 

' I believe what I now say to be true,' said Dr. X , * and 

I always endeavour to make truth popular.' 

* But possibly these are only truths for ladies. Dr. X 

may be such an ungallant philosopher, as to think that some 
truths are not fit for ladies. He may hold a different language 
with gentlemen.' 

* I should not only be an ungallant but a weak philosopher,' 

said Dr. X , * if I thought that truth was not the same for 

all the world who can understand it. And who can doubt Lady 
Delacour's being of that number ? ' 

Lady Delacour, who, at the beginning of this conversation 
had spoken guardedly, from the fear of lowering the doctor's 
opinion of her understanding, was put at her ease by the 
manner in which he now spoke ; and, half laying aside the 
tone of raillery, she said to him, *Well, doctor ! seriously, I am 
not so illiberal as to condemn all chaplains for one, odious 
as he was. But where to find his contrast in these degenerate 
days ? Can you, who are a defender of the faith, and so forth, 
assist me ? Will you recommend a chaplain to my lord ? ' 

* Willingly,' said Dr. X ; * and that is what I would not 

say for a world of fees, unless I were sure of my man.' 

* What sort of a man is he ? ' 

* Not a buck parson.' 

* And I hope not a pedant, not a dogmatist, for that would 
be almost as bad. Before we domesticate another chaplain, I 

330 



THE CHAPLAIN 

wish to know all his qualities, and to have a fiiU and true 
description of him.' 

* Shall I then give you a full and true description of him in 
the words of Chaucer ? ' 

* In any words you please. But Chaucer's chaplain must be 
a little old-fashioned by this time, I should think.' 

* Pardon me. Some people, as well as some things, never 
grow old-fashioned. I should not be ashamed to produce 
Chaucer's parish priest at this day to the best company in 
England — I am not ashamed to produce him to your lady- 
ship ; and if I can remember twenty lines in his favour, I hope 
you will give me credit for being a sincere friend to the worthy 
part of the clergy. Observe, you must take them as I can 
patch them together ; I will not promise that I can recollect 
twenty lines de suite, and without missing a word ; that is 
what I would not swear to do for His Grace the Archbishop 
of Canterbury.' 

* His Grace will probably excuse you from swearing ; at 
least I will,' said Lady Delacour, * on the present occasion : so 
now for your twenty lines in whatever order you please.' 

Doctor X , with sundry intervals of recollection, which 

may be spared the reader, repeated the following lines : 

Yet has his aspect nothing of severe, 

But such a face as promised him sincere. 

Nothing reserved or sullen was to see, 

But sweet regards, and pleasing sanctity, 

Mild was his accent, and his action free. 

With eloquence innate his tongue was arm'd, 

Though harsh the precept, yet the preacher charm'd ; 

For, letting down the golden chain from high. 

He drew his audience upwards to the sky. 

He taught the Gospel rather than the law, 

And forced himself to drive, but loved to draw. 

The tithes his parish freely paid, he took ; 

But never sued, or curs*d with bell and book. 

Wide was his parish, not contracted close 

In streets — but here and there a straggling house. 

Yet still he was at hand, without request, 

To serve the sick, and succour the distressed. 

The proud he tamed, the penitent he cheer'd, 

Nor to rebuke the rich offender fear'd. 

His preaching much, but more his practice wrought, 

A Uving sermon of the truths he taught. 

331 



BELINDA 

Lady Delacour wished that she could find a chaplain, who 
in any degree resembled this charming parish priest, and Dr. 

X promised that he would the next day introduce to her 

his friend Mr. Moreton. 

* Mr. Moreton I ' said Belinda, * the gentlenmn of whom Mr. 
Percival spoke, Mrs. Freke's Mr. Moreton ? ' 

* Yes,' said Dr. X , * the clergyman whom Mrs. Freke 

hanged in effigy, and to whom Clarence Hervey has given a 
small living.' 

These circumstances, even if he had not precisely resembled 
Chaucer's character of a benevolent clergyman, would have 
strongly interested Lady Delacour in his favour. She found 
him, upon farther acquaintance, a perfect contrast to her 
former chaplain ; and he gradually acquired such salutary 
influence over her mind, that he relieved her from the terrors 
of Methodism, and in their place substituted the consolations 
of mild and rational piety. 

Her conscience was now at peace ; her spirits were real and 
equable, and never was her conversation so agreeable. Ani- 
mated with the new feelings of returning health, and the new 
hopes of domestic happiness, she seemed desirous to impart 
her felicity to all around her, but chiefly to Belinda, who had 
the strongest claims upon her gratitude, and the warmest place 
in her affections. Belinda never made her friend feel the 
weight of any obligation, and consequently Lady Delacour's 
gratitude was a voluntary pleasure — not an expected duty. 
Nothing could be more delightful to Miss Portman than thus 
to feel herself the object at once of esteem, affection, and 
respect ; to see that she had not only been the means of saving 
her friend's life, but that the influence she had obtained over 
her mind was likely to be so permanently beneficial both to her 
and to her family. 

Belinda did not take all the merit of this reformation to 
herself : she was most willing to share it, in her own imagina- 
tion, not only with Dr. X and Mr. Moreton, but with poor 

Clarence Hervey. She was pleased to observe that Lady 
Delacour never omitted any occasion of doing justice to his 
merit, and she loved her for that generosity, which sometimes 
passed the bounds of justice in her eulogiums. But Belinda 
was careful to preserve her consistency, and to guard her heart 
from the dangerous effect of these enthusiastic praises ; and as 

332 



THE CHAPLAIN 

Lady Delacour was now sufficiently re-established in her health, 
she announced her intention of returning immediately to Oakly 
Park, according to her promise to Lady Anne Percival and to 
Mr. Vincent 

* But, my dear,' said Lady Delacour, * one week more is all 
I ask from you — may not friendship ask such a sacrifice from 
love ? ' 

'You expect, I know,' said Miss Portman ingenuously, 
* that before the end of that time Mr. Hervey will be here.' 

* True. And have you no friendship for him ? ' said Lady 
Delacour, with an arch smile, 'or is friendship for every man in 
the creation, one Augustus Vincent always excepted, prohibited 
by the statutes of Oakly Park ? ' 

' By the statutes of Oakly Park nothing is forbidden,' said 
Belinda, * but what reason ' 

* Reason ! Oh, I have done if you go to reason ! You are 
invulnerable to the light shafts of wit, I know, when you are 
cased in this heavy armour of reason ; Cupid himself may strain 
his bow, and exhaust his quiver upon you in vain. But have a 
care — ^you cannot live in armour all your life — lay it aside but 
for a moment, and the little bold urchin will make it his prize. 
Remember, in one of Raphael's pictures, Cupid creeping into 
the armour of the conqueror of the world.' 

' I am sufficiently aware,' said Belinda, smiling, ' of the 
power of Cupid, and of his wiles. I would not brave his malice, 
but I will fly from it' 

* It is so cowardly to fly ! ' 

* Surely prudence, not courage, is the virtue of our sex ; and 
seriously, my dear Lady Delacour, I entreat you not to use your 
influence over my mind, lest you should lessen my happiness, 
though you cannot alter my determination.' 

Moved by the earnest manner in which Belinda uttered these 
words. Lady Delacour rallied her no more, nor did she longer 
oppose her resolution of returning immediately to Oakly Park. 

' May I remind you,' said Miss Portman, ' though it is 
seldom either politic or polite, to remind people of their 
promises, — but may I remind you of something like a promise 
you made, to accompany me to Mr. Percival's ? ' 

' And would you have me behave so brutally to poor Lord 
Delacour, as to run away from him in this manner the moment 
I have strength to run ? ' 



BELINDA 

< Lord Delacour is included in this invitation,' said Miss 
Portman, putting the last letter that she had received from Lady 
Anne Percival into her hands. 

* When I recollect,' said Lady Delacour, as she looked over 
the letter, * how well this Lady Anne of yours has behaved to 
me about Helena, when I recollect, that, though you have been 
with her so long, she has not supplanted me in your affections, 
and that she did not attempt to detain you when I sent 
Marriott to Oakly Park, and when I consider how much for my 
own advantage it will be to accept this invitation, I really 
cannot bring myself, from pride, or folly, or any other motive, 
to refuse it. So, my dear Belinda, prevail upon Lord Dela- 
cour to spend his Christmas at Oakly Park, instead of at 
Studley Manor (Rantipole, thank heaven I is out of the ques- 
tion), and prevail upon yourself to stay a few days for me, and 
you shall take us all with you in triumph.' 

Belinda was convinced that, when Lady Delacour had once 
^ tasted the pleasures of domestic life, she would not easily return 
'. to that dissipation which she had followed from habit, and into 
which she had first been driven by a mixture of vanity and 
despair. All the connections which she had imprudently formed 
with numbers of fashionable but extravagant and thoughtless 
women would insensibly be broken off by this measure ; for 
Lady Delacour, who was already weary of their company, would 
be so much struck with the difference between their insipid 
conversation and the animated and interesting society in Lady 
Anne PercivaPs family, that she would afterwards think them 
not only burdensome but intolerable. Lord Delacour's inti- 
macy with Lord Studley was one of his chief inducements to 
that intemperance, which injured almost equally his constitution 
and his understanding : for some weeks past he had abstained 
from all excess, and Belinda was well aware, that, when the 
immediate motive of humanity to Lady Delacour ceased to act 
upon him, he would probably return to his former habits, if he 
continued to visit his former associates. It was therefore of 
importance to break at once his connection with Lord Studley, 
and to place him in a situation where he might form new habits, 
and where his dormant talents might be roused to exertion. 
She was convinced that his understanding was not so much 
delow par as she had once been taught to think it : she per- 
ceived, also, that since their reconciliation, Lady Delacour 

334 



PEU A PEU 

was anxious to make him appear to advantage : whenever he 
said anything that was worth hearing, she looked at Belinda 
with triumph ; and whenever he happened to make a mistake 
in conversation, she either showed involuntary signs of uneasi- 
ness, or passed it of!* with that easy wit, by which she generally 
knew how ' to make the worse appear the better reason.' Miss 
Portman knew that Mr. Percival possessed the happy talent of 
drawing out all the abilities of those with whom he conversed, 
and that he did not value men merely for their erudition, science, 
or literature ; he was capable of estimating the potential as well 
as the actual range of the mind. Of his generosity she could 
not doubt, and she was persuaded that he would take every 
possible means which good nature, joined to good sense, could 
suggest, to raise Lord Delacour in his lady's esteem, and to 
make that union happy which was indissoluble. All these re- 
flections passed with the utmost rapidity in Belinda's mind, and 
the result of them was, that she consented to wait Lady 
Delacour's leisure for her journey. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

PEU A PEU 

Things were in this situation, when one day Marriott made 
her appearance at her lady's toilette with a face which at once 
proclaimed that something had discomposed her, and that she 
was impatient to be asked what it was. 

* What is the matter, Marriott ? ' said Lady Delacour ; * for I 
know you want me to ask.' 

* Want you to ask ! Oh dear, my lady, no ! — for Pm sure, 
it's a thing that goes quite against me to tell ; for I thought, 
indeed, my lady, superiorly of the person in question ; so much 
so, indeed, that I wished what I declare I should now be 
ashamed to mention, especially in the presence of Miss Port- 
man, who deserves the best that this world can afford of every 
denomination. Well, ma'am, in one word,' continued she, 
addressing herself to Belinda, ' I am extremely rejoiced that 
things are as they are, though I confess that was not always 

335 



BELINDA 

my wish or opinion, for which I beg Mr. Vincent's pardon and 
yours ; but I hope to be forgiven, since Vm now come entirely 
round to my Lady Anne Percival's way of thinking, which I 
learnt from good authority at Oakly Park ; and I am now 
convinced and confident, Miss Portman, that everything is for 
the best' 

* Marriott will inform us, in due course of time, what has 
thus suddenly and happily converted her,' said Lady Delacour 
to Belinda, who was thrown into some surprise and con- 
fusion by Marriott's address ; but Marriott went on with much 
warmth — 

* Dear me ! I'm sure I thought we had got rid of all double- 
dealers, when the house was cleared of Mr. Champfort ; but, 
oh, mercy 1 there's not traps enough in the world for them all ; 
I only wish they were all caught as finely as some people were. 
'Tis what all double-dealers, and Champfort at the head of the 
whole regiment, deserve — that's certain.' 

* We must take patience, my dear Belinda,' said Lady Dela- 
cour, calmly, * till Marriott has exhausted all the expletives in 
and out of the English language ; and presently, when she has 
fought all her battles with Champfort over again, we may hope 
to get at the fact.' 

* Dear I my lady, it has nothing to do with Mr. Champfort, 
nor any such style of personage, I can assure you ; for, I'm 
positive, I'd rather think contemptibly of a hundred million 
Mr. Champforts than of one such gentleman as Mr. Clarence 
Hervey.* 

* Clarence Hervey ! ' exclaimed Lady Delacour : taking it 
for granted that Belinda blushed, her ladyship, with superfluous 
address, instantly turned, so as to hide her friend's face from 
Mrs. Marriott. * Well, Marriott, what of Mr. Hervey ? ' 

*0 my lady, something you'll be surprised to hear, and 
Miss Portman, too. It is not, by any means, that I am more 
of a prude than is becoming, my lady : nor that I take upon 
me to be so innocent as not to know that young gentlemen of 
fortune will, if it be only for fashion's sake, have such things 
as kept mistresses (begging pardon for mentioning such trash) ; 
but no one that has lived in the world thinks anything of that, 
except,' added she, catching a glimpse of Belinda's countenance, 
'except, to be sure, ma'am, morally speaking, it's very wicked 
and shocking, and makes one blush before company, till one's 

336 



PEU A PEU 

used to it, and ought certainly to be put down by Act of Parlia- 
ment, ma'am ; but, my lady, you know, in point of surprising 
anybody, or being discreditable in a young gentleman of Mr. 
Herve/s fortune and pretensions, it would be mere envy and 
scandal to deem it anything — worth mentioning.* 

* Then, for mercy's sake, or mine,' said Lady Delacour, * go 
on to something that is worth mentioning.' 

*Well, my lady, you must know, then, that yesterday I 
wanted some hempseed for my bullfinch — Miss Helena's bull- 
finch, I mean ; for it was she found it by accident, you know. 
Miss Portman, the day after we came here. Poor thing ! it 
got itself so entangled in the net over the morello cherry-tree, 
in the garden, that it could neither get itself in nor out ; but 
very luckily Miss Helena saw it, and saved, and brought it in : 
it was almost dead, my lady.' 

* Was it ? — I mean I am very sorry for it : that is what you 
expect me to say. Now, go on — get us once past the bull- 
finch, or tell us what it has to do with Clarence Hervey.' 

' That is what I am aiming at, as fast as possible, my lady. 
So I sent for some hempseed for the bullfinch, and along with 
the hempseed they brought me wrapped round it, as it were, a 
printed handbill, as it might be, or advertisement, which I 
threw off, disregardingly, taking for granted it might have been 
some of those advertisements for lozenges or razor-strops, that 
meet one wherever one goes ; but Miss Delacour picked it up, 
and found it was a kind of hue and cry after a stolen or strayed 
bullfinch. Ma'am, I was so provoked, I could have cried, 
when I learnt it was the exact description of our little Bobby 
to a feather — gray upon the back, and red on ^ 

* Oh I spare me the description to a feather. Well, you 
took the bird, bullfinch, or Bobby, as you call it, home to its 
rightful owner, I presume ? Let me get you so far on your 
way.' 

* No, I beg your pardon, my lady, that is not the thing.' 

* Then you did not take the bird home to its owner — and 
you are a bird-stealer ? With all my heart ; be a dog-stealer, 
if you will — only go on.' 

* But, my lady, you hurry me so, it puts everything topsy- 
turvy in my head ; I could tell it as fast as possible my own 
way.' 

' Do so, then.^ 

2 337 



BELINDA 

* I was ready to cry, when I found our little Bobby was 
claimed from us, to be sure ; but Miss Delacour observed, 
that those with whom it had lived till it was gray must be 
sorrier still to part with it : so I resolved to do the honest and 
genteel thing by the lady who advertised for it, and to take it 
back myself, and to refuse the five guineas reward offered. 
The lad/s name, according to the advertisement, was Ormond.* 

* Ormond 1 ' repeated Lady Delacour, looking eagerly at 
Belinda : * was not that the name Sir Philip Baddely mentioned 
to us — you remember ? ' 

*Yes, Ormond was the name, as well as I recollect,' said 
Belinda, with a degree of steady composure that provoked her 
ladyship. * Go on, Marriott.' 

* And the words were, to leave the bird at a perfumer's in 

Twickenham, opposite to ; but that's no matter. Well, 

my lady, to the perfumer's I went with the bird, this morning. 
Now, I had my reasons for wishing to see this Mrs. Ormond 
myself, because, my lady, there was one thing rather remark- 
able about this bullfinch, that it sings a very particular tune, 
which I never heard any bullfinch, or any human creature, sing 
anything like before : so I determined, in my own cogitations, 
to ask this Mrs. Ormond to name the tunes her bullfinch could 
sing, before I produced it ; and if she made no mention of its 
knowing any one out of the common way, I resolved to keep 
my bird to myself, as I might very conscientiously and genteelly 
too. So, my lady, when I got to the perfumer's, I inquired 
where Mrs. Ormond was to be found ? I was told that she 
received no visits from any, at least from the female sex ; and 
that I must leave the bird there till called for. I was consider- 
ing what to do, and the strangeness of the information made 
about the female sex, when in there came, into the shop, a 
gentleman, who saved me all the indelicacy of asking particulars. 
The bullfinch was at this time piping away at a fine rate, and, 
as luck would have it, that very remarkable strange tune that 
I mentioned to you. Says the gentleman, as he came into the 
shop, fixing his eyes on the bullfinch as if they would have 
come fairly out of his head, " How did that bird come here ? " — 
" I brought it here, sir," said L Then he began to offer me 
mountains of gold in a very strange way, if I could tell him 
any tidings of the lady to whom it belonged. The shopman 
from behind the counter now bent forward, and whispered the 

338 



PEU A PEU 

gentleman that he could give him some information, if he 
would make it worth his while ; and they both went together 
to a little parlour behind the shop, and I saw no more of them. 
But, my lady, very opportunely for me, that was dying with 
curiosity, out of the parlour they turned a young woman in, to 
attend the shop, who proved to be an acquaintance of mine, 
whom I had done some little favours to when in service in 
London. And this young w6man, when I told her my distress 
about the advertisement and the bullfinch, let me into the 
whole of the affair. " Ma'am," said she, " all that is known 
about Mrs. Ormond, in this house, or anywhere else, is from 
me ; so there was no occasion for turning me out of the parlour. 
I lived with Mrs. Ormond, ma'am," says she, "for half a year, 
in the very house she now occupies, and consequently nobody 
can be better informed than I am '* : — to which I agreed. 
Then she told me that the reason that Mrs. Ormond never 
saw any company of any sort was, because she is not fit to see 
company — proper company — for she's not a proper woman. 
She has a most beautifiil young creature there, shut up, who 
has been seduced, and is now deserted in a most cruel manner 
by a Mr. Hervey. Oh, my lady ! how the name struck upon 
my ear ! I hoped, however, it was not our Mr. Hervey ; but 
it was the identical Mr. Clarence Hervey. I made the young 
woman describe him, for she had often and often seen him, 
when he visited the unfortunate creature ; and the description 
could suit none but our Mr. Hervey, and besides it put it 
beyond a doubt, she told me his linen was all marked C. H. 
So our Mr. Hervey, ma'am,' added Marriott, turning to Belinda, 
* it certainly proved to be, to my utter dismay and confusion.' 

* Oh, Marriott ! my poor head ! ' exclaimed Lady Delacour, 
starting from under her hands : * that cruel comb went at least 
half an inch into my head — heads have feeling as well as 
hearts, believe me.' And, as she spoke, she snatched out the 
comb with which Marriott had just fastened up her hair, and 
flung it on a sofa at some yards' distance. While Marriott 
went to fetch it. Lady Delacour thought that Belinda would 
have time to recover from that utter dismay and confusion into 
which she hoped that she must now be thrown. * Come, 
Marriott, make haste. I have done you at least a great favour, 
for you have all this hair to perform upon again, and you will 
have leisure to finish this story of yours — which, at all events, 

339 



BELINDA 

if it is not in any other respect wonderful, we must allow is 
wonderfully long.' 

* Well, my lady, to be short, then — I was more curious than 
ever, when I heard all this, to hear more ; and asked my friend 
how she could ever think of staying in a house with ladies of 
such a description ! Upon which she justified herself by assur- 
ing me, upon her honour, that at first she believed the young 
lady was married privately to Mr. Hervey, for that a clergyman 
came in secret, and read prayers, and she verily believes that 
the unfortunate young creature was deceived barbarously, and 
made to fancy herself married to all intents and purposes, till 
all at once Mr. Her\'ey threw off the mask, and left off visiting 
her, pretending a necessity to take a jouii'ney, and handing her 
over to that vile woman, that Mrs. Ormond, who bid her to be 
comforted, and all the things that are said by such women, on 
such occasions, by all accounts. But the poor deluded young 
thing saw how it was now too plain, and she was ready to 
break her heart ; but not in a violent, common sort of way, 
ma'am, but in silent grief, pining and drooping. My friend 
could not stand the sight, nor endure to look upon Mrs. Ormond 
now she knew what she was ; and so she left the house, without 
giving any reason, immediately. I forgot to mention, that the 
unfortunate girl's maiden name was St. Pierre, my lady : but 
her Christian name, which was rather an out o' the way name, 
I quite forget.' 

* No matter,' said Lady Delacour ; * we can live without it ; 
or we can imagine it' 

* To be sure — I beg pardon ; such sort of people's names 
can't be of any consequence, and, I'm sure, I blame myself now 
for going to the house, after all I had heard.' 

* You did go to the house, then ? ' 

* To my shame be it spoken ; my curiosity got the better of 
me, and I went — but only on account of the bullfinch in the 
eyes of the world. It was a great while before I could get in : 
but I was so firm, that I would not give up the bird to no one 
but the lady herself, that I got in at last. Oh, never did my 
eyes light upon so beautiful a creature, nor so graceful, nor so 
innocent to look at 1 ' — Belinda sighed — Marriott echoed the 
sigh, and continued : * She was by herself, and in tears, when 
I was shown in, ma'am, and she started as if she had never 
seen anybody before in her life. But when she saw the bull- 

340 



PEU A PEU 

finch, ma'am, she clapped her hands, and, smiling through her 
tears like a child, she ran up to me, and thanked me again and 
again, kissing the bird between times, and putting it into her 
bosom. Well, I declare, if she had talked to all eternity, she 
could never have made me pity her half so much as all this 
did, for it looked so much like innocence. Pm sure, nobody 
that was not — or, at least, that did not think themselves 
innocent, could have such ways, and such an innocent affection 
for a little bird. Not but what I know ladies of a certain 
description often have birds, but then their fondness is all 
affectation and fashion ; but this poor thing was all nature. 
Ah ! poor unfortunate girl, thought I — but it's no matter what 
I thought now,' said Marriott, shutting her eyes, to hide the 
tears that came into them at this instant ; ^ I was ashamed of 
myself, when I saw Mrs. Ormond just then come into the 
room, which made me recollect what sort of company I was in. 
La I my lady, how I detested the sight of her ! She looked at 
me, too, more like a dragon than anything else ; though in a 
civil way, and as if she was frightened out of her wits, she 
asked Miss St. Pierre, as she called her, how I had got in (in 
a whisper), and she made all sorts of signs afterward to her, to 
go out of the room. Never having been in such a situation 
before, I was quite robbed of all fluency, and could not — what 
with the anger I felt for the one, and sorrow for the other — 
get out a word of common sense, or even recollect what 
pretence brought me into the room, till the bird very luckily 
put it into my head by beginning to sing ; so then I asked, 
whether they could certify it to be theirs by any particular tune 
of its own ? " Oh, yes," said Miss St. Pierre ; and she sung 
the very same tune. I never heard so sweet a voice ; but, 
poor thing, something came across her mind in the middle of 
it, and she stopped; but she thanked me again for bringing 
back the bird, which, she said, had been hers for a great 
many years, and that she loved it dearly. I stood, I believe, 
like one stupefied, till I was roused by the womar^s offering to 
put the five guineas reward, mentioned in the advertisement, 
into my hand. The touch of her gold made me start, as if it 
had been a snake, and I pushed it from me ; and when she 
pressed it again, I threw it on the table, scarce knowing what 
I did ; and just then, in her iniquitous hand, I saw a letter, 
directed to Clarence Hervey, Esq. Oh, how I hated the sight 

341 



BELINDA 

of his name, and everything belonging to him, ma'am, at that 
minute ! Pm sure, I could not have kept myself from saying 
something quite outrageous, if I had not taken myself out of 
the house, as I did, that instant. 

* When there are women enough bom and bred good for 
nothing, and ladies enough to flirt with, that would desire no 
better, that a gentleman like Mr. Clarence Hervey, ma*am, 
should set his wits, as one may say, to be the ruin of such a 
sweet, innocent-looking young creature, and then desert her in 
that barbarous way, after bringing a clergyman to deceive her 
with a mock ceremony, and all — oh ! there is no fashion, nor 
nothing can countenance such wickedness ! 'tis the worst of 
wickedness and cruelty — and I shall think and say so to the 
latest hour of my life.' 

* Well said, Marriott,' cried Lady Delacour. 

* And now you know the reason, ma'am,' added Marriott, 
' that I said, I was glad things are as they are. To be sure I 
and everybody once thought — but that's all over now — and I 
am glad things are as they are? 

Lady Delacour once more turned her quick eyes upon 
Belinda, and was much pleased to see that she seemed to 
sympathise with Marriott's indignation. 

In the evening, when they were alone. Lady Delacour 
touched upon the subject again, and observed, that as they 
should now, in all probability, see Mr. Hervey in a few days, 
they might be able to form a better judgment of this affair, 
which she doubted not had been exaggerated. * You should 
judge from the whole of Clarence's conduct and character, and 
not from any particular part,' said her ladyship. * Do not his 
letters breathe a spirit of generosity ? ' 

' But,' interrupted Miss Portman, * I am not called upon to 
judge of Mr. Hervey's whole conduct and character, nor of any 
part of it ; his letters and his generosity are nothing ' 

* To you ? ' said Lady Delacour with a smile. 

* This is no time, and no subject for raillery, my dear friend,' 
said Belinda ; * you assured me, and I believed you, that the 
idea of Mr. Hervey's return was entirely out of the question, 
when you prevailed upon me to delay my journey to Oakly 
Park. As I now understand that your ladyship has changed 
your mind, I must request your ladyship will permit me ' 

* I will permit you to do what you please, dearest Belinda, 

342 



PEU A PEU 

except to call me your ladyship twice in one sentence. You 
shall go to Oakly Park the day after to-morrow: will that 
content you, my dear ? I admire your strength of mind — you 
are much fitter to conduct yourself than I am to conduct you. 
I have done with raillery : my first, my only object, is your 
happiness. I respect and esteem as much as I love you, and 
I love you better ihan anything upon earth — power excepted, 
you will say — power not excepted, believe me ; and if you are 
one of those strange people that cannot believe without proof, 
you shall have proof positive upon the spot,' added she, ringing 
the bell as she spoke. * I will no longer contend for power 
over your mind with your friends at Oakly Park. I will give 
orders, in your presence, to Marriott, to prepare for our march 
— I did not call it retreat ; but there is nothing shows so 
much generalship as a good retreat, unless it be a great 
victory. I am, I confess, rather prejudiced in favour of 
victory.' 

' So am I,' said Belinda, with a smile ; M am so strongly 
prejudiced in favour of victory, that rather than obtain no 
other, I would even be content with a victory over myself.' 

Scarcely had Belinda pronounced these words, when Lord 
Delacour, who had dined in town, entered the room, accom- 
panied by Mr. Vincent. 

* Give me leave, Lady Delacour, to introduce to you,' said 
his lordship, < a young gentleman, who has a great, and, I am 
sure, a most disinterested desire to cultivate your ladyship's 
further acquaintance.' 

Lady Delacour received him with all the politeness imagin- 
able ; and even her prepossessions in favour of Clarence 
Hervey could not prevent her from being struck with his 
appearance. II a infiniment Pair d'un h^ros de roman, thought 
she, and Belinda is not quite so great a philosopher as I 
imagined. In due time her ladyship recollected that she had 
orders to give to Marriott about her journey, that made it 
absolutely necessary she should leave Miss Portman to enter- 
tain Mr. Vincent, if possible, without her, for a few minutes ; 
and Lord Delacour departed, contenting himself with the usual 
excuse of — letters to write, 

* I ought to be delighted with your gallantry, Mr. Vincent,' 
said Belinda, ' in travelling so many miles, to remind me of my 
promise about Oakly Park ; but on the contrary, I am sorry 

343 



BELINDA 

you have taken so much unnecessary trouble : Lady Delacour 
is, at this instant, preparing for our journey to Mr. Percivars. 
We intend to set out the day after to-morrow/ 

* I am heartily glad of it — I shall be infinitely overpaid 
for my journey, by having the pleasure of going back with you.' 

After some conversation upon different subjects, Mr. Vincent, 
with an air of frankness which was peculiarly pleasing to 
Belinda, put into her hands an anonymous letter, which he had 
received the preceding day. 

* It is not worth your reading,' said he ; * but I know you 
too well to fear that it should give you any pain ; and I hope 
you know me too well, to apprehend that it could make any 
impression on my mind.' 

Belinda read with some surprise : — 

* Rash young man I beware of connecting yourself with the 
lady to whom you have lately been drawn in to pay your 
addresses : she is the most artful of women. She has been 
educated, as you may find upon inquiry, by one, whose success- 
ful trade it has been to draw in young men of fortune for her 
nieces, whence she has obtained the appellation of the match- 
maker general. The only niece whom she could not get rid of 
any other way, she sent to the most dissipated and unprincipled 
viscountess in town. The viscountess fell sick, and, as it was 
universally reported last winter, the young lady was immediately 
upon her friend's death, to have been married to the viscount 
widower. But the viscountess detected the connection, and 
the young lady, to escape from her friend's rage, and from 
public shame, was obliged to retreat to certain shades in the 
neighbourhood of Harrowgate ; where she passed herself for a 
saint upon those who were too honourable themselves to be 
suspicious of others. 

* At length the quarrel between her and the viscountess was 
made up, by her address and boldness in declaring, that if she 
was not recalled, she would divulge some secrets respecting a 
certain mysterious boudoir in her ladyship's house : this threat 
terrified the viscountess, who sent off express for her late 
discarded humble companion. The quarrel was hushed up, 
and the young lady is now with her noble friend at Twicken- 
ham. The person who used to be let up the private stairs 
into the boudoir, by Mrs. Marriott, is now more conveniently 
received at Twickenham.' 

344 



Bilinda rtad ivitk lomi iwfrUe. 



BELINDA 

Much more was said by the letter -writer in the same strain. 
The name of Clarence Hervey, in the last page, caught 
Belinda's eye ; and with a trepidation which she did not feel at 
the beginning of this epistle, she read the conclusion. 

* The viscount is not supposed to have been unrivalled in 
the young lad/s favour. A young gentleman, of large fortune, 
great talents, and uncommon powers of pleasing, has, for some 
months, been her secret object; but he has been prudent 
enough to escape her matrimonial snares, though he carries on 
a correspondence with her, through the means of her friend 
the viscountess, to whom he privately writes. The noble lady 
has bargained to make over to her confidante all her interest 
in Hervey's heart. He is expected every day to return from 
his tour ; and, if the schemes upon him can be brought to bear, 
the promised return to the neighbourhood of Harrowgate will 
never be thought of. Mr. Vincent will be left in the lurch ; he 
will not even have the lad/s fair hand — ^her fair heart is 
Clarence Hervey s, at all events. Further particulars shall be 
communicated to Mr. Vincent, if he pays due attention to this 
warning from A sincere Friend.' 

As soon as Belinda had finished this curious production, 
she thanked Mr. Vincent, with more kindness than she had 
ever before shown him, for the confidence he placed in her, 
and for the openness with which he treated her. She begged 
his permission to show this letter to Lady Delacour, though he 
had previously dreaded the effect which it might have upon her 
ladyship's feelings. 

Her first exclamation was, * This is one of Harriot Freke*s 
frolics ; ' but as her ladyship's indignation against Mrs. Freke 
had long since subsided into utter contempt, she did not waste 
another thought upon the writer of this horrible letter ; but 
instantly the whole energy of her mind and fire of her eloquence 
burst forth in an eulogium upon her friend. Careless of all 
that concerned herself, she explained, without a moment's 
hesitation, everything that could exalt Belinda : she described 
all the difficult circumstances in which her friend had been 
placed ; she mentioned the secret with which she had been 
entrusted ; the honour with which, even at the hazard of her 
own reputation, she had kept her promise of secrecy inviolable, 
when Lord Delacour, in a fit of intoxication and jealousy, had 

346 



PEU A PEU 

endeavoured to wrest from Marriott the key of the mysterious 
boudoir. She confessed her own absurd jealousy, explained 
how it had been excited by the artifices of Champfort and Sir 
Philip Baddely, how slight circumstances had worked her mind 
up almost to frenzy. < The temper, the dignity, the gentleness, 
the humanity, with which Belinda bore with me, during this 
paroxysm of madness,' said Lady Delacour, ' I never can forget ; 
nor the spirit with which she left my house, when she saw 
me unworthy of her esteem, and ungrateful for her kindness ; 
nor the magnanimity with which she returned to me, when I 
thought myself upon my death-bed : all this has made an 
impression upon my soul, which never, whilst I have life and 
reason, can be effaced She has saved my life. She has made 
my life worth saving. She has made me feel my own Value. 
She has made me know my own happiness. She has reconciled 
me to my husband. She has united me with my child. She 
has been my guardian angel. — She^ the confidante of my 
intrigues ! — she leagued with me in vice 1 — No, I am bound to 
her by ties stronger than vice ever felt ; than vice, even in the 
utmost ingenuity of its depravity, can devise.' 

Exhausted by the vehemence with which she had spoken. 
Lady Delacour paused ; but Vincent, who sympathised in her 
enthusiasm, kept his eyes fixed upon her, in hopes that she 
had yet more to say. 

' I might, perhaps, you will think,' continued she, smiling, 
* have spared you this history of myself, and of my own affairs, 
Mr. Vincent ; but I thought it necessary to tell you the plain 
facts, which malice has distorted into the most odious form. 
This is the quarrel, this is the reconciliation, of which your 
anonymous friend has been so well informed. Now, as to 
Clarence Hervey.' 

*I have explained to Mr. Vincent,' interrupted Belinda, 
' everything that he could wish to know on that subject, and I 
now wish you to tell him that I faithfully remembered my 
promise to return to Oakly Park, and that we were actually 
preparing for the journey.' 

* Look here, sir,' cried Lady Delacour, opening the door of 
her dressing-room, in which Marriott was upon her knees, 
locking a trunk, < here's dreadful note of preparation.' 

* You are a happier man than you yet know, Mr. Vincent,' 
continued Lady Delacour ; < for I can tell you, that some per- 

347 



BELINDA 

suasion, some raillery, and some wit, I flatter myself, have 
been used, to detain Miss Portman from you.* 

* From Oakly Park,' interrupted Belinda. 

* From Oakly Park, etc., a few days longer. Shall I be 
frank with you, Mr. Vincent ? — Yes, for I cannot help it — I 
am not of the nature of anonymous letter-writers ; I cannot, 
either secretly or publicly, sign or say myself a sincere friendy 
without being one to the utmost extent of my influence, I 
never give my vote without my interest, nor my interest without 
my vote. Now Clarence Hervey is my friend. Start not at all, 
sir, — you have no reason ; for if he is my friend. Miss Portman 
is yours : which has the better bargain ? But, as I was going 
to tell you, Mr. Clarence Hervey is my friend, and I am his. 
My vote, interest, and influence, have consequently been all in 
his favour. I had reason to believe that he has long admired 
the dignity of Miss Portman's mind^ and the simplicity of her 
character^ continued her ladyship, with an arch look at Belinda ; 
< and though he was too much a man of genius to begin with 
the present tense of the indicative mood, " I love," yet I was, 
and am, convinced, that he does love her.' 

*Can you, dear Lady Delacour,' cried Belinda, * speak in 
this manner, and recollect all we heard from Marriott this 
morning ? And to what purpose all this ? * 

* To what purpose, my dear .? To convince your friend, Mr. 
Vincent, that I am neither fool nor knave ; but that I deal 
fairly by you, by him, and by all the world. Mr. Hervey's 
conduct towards Miss Portman has, I acknowledge, sir, been 
undecided. Some circumstances have lately come to my 
knowledge which throw doubts upon his honour and integrity — 
doubts which, I firmly believe, he will clear up to my satisfac- 
tion at least, as soon as I see him, or as soon as it is in his 
power ; with this conviction, and believing, as I do, that no 
man upon earth is so well suited to my friend, — pardon me, 
Mr. Vincent, if my wishes differ from yours : though my 
sincerity may give you present, it may save you from future, 
pain.' 

* Your ladyship's sincerity, whatever pain it may give me, I 
admire,* said Mr. Vincent, with some pride in his manner ; * but 
I see that I must despair of the honour of your ladyship's con- 
gratulations.' 

* Pardon me,' interrupted Lady Delacour ; * there you are 

348 



r£V A r EV 



ran rdL Belrndi's zbctoe iKSjar recw^ nev 



cocgia2=jzraoBS ; be rrssc do =cce — be =nsc bccooe my friefid. 
I wocjd nno rest tiZ I bad wcc hzs regard, »>r shouki I in 
the least be apcrefeeisrre that he wccL<i coc have stifficieiit 
gicatnesB of =:i=d to fcx^Ii e cy having treated him vith a 
degiee of szceritT vhich tbe cocudoq foims of politeness 
camiot "Tistifr. and at which coorson sods would be scandalised 



Mr.\'aicaifs fvide was entirely vanquished by this speech ; 
and with that frankness bv mhich his manners were usuallv 
cfaaiactcrised, he thanked her for ha\Hng distinguisheit him 
from comwwn souls s and assured her that such sincerilv as 
hers was infinitely more to his taste than that refined politeness 
of which he was aware no (Mie was more perfect mistress than 
Lady Delacoar. 

Here their conversation ended, and Mr. Vincent, as it wa:i 
now late, took his leave. 

' Really, my dear Belinda,* said Lady Dclacour, when he 
was gone, * I am not surprised at your impatience to iTturn to 
Oakly Park ; I am not so partial to my knight, as to rtw^wvt) 
him, in personal accomplishments, with your hew, I fttknow- 
ledge, also, that there is something vastly prepoaseNMing in tho 
frankness of his manners; he has behaved iuUuirttbly wt»U 
about this abominable letter; but, what la bettor thttn nil in h 
lady's eyes, he is ^erdument amourtux.^ 

* Not ^erdutnenty I hope,* said Helintln. 

*Then, as you do not think it necesaury for your hem \\\ hn 
dperdununt amoureux^ I presume,* said l.ttdy Dpltttnur, •yini 
do not think it necessary that a heroine nhoulil bo in ln\e til 
all. So love and marriage are to be leparatod ))y pl^ilunnpliy, 
as well as by fashion. This is Lady Anno J*er<ivttl'ii dot trina I 
I give Mr. Percival joy. I remember the tinio, when \w 
fancied love essential to happiness.' 

* I believe he not only fancies, but is sure of It now, frmn 
experience,' said Belinda. 

* Then he interdicts love only to his friends ? lie dood not 
think it essential that you should know anything aboul iho 
matter. You may marry his ward, and welcome, without being 
in love with him.* 

* But not without loving him,* said Belinda, 

' I am not casuist enough in these matters to understftud 

349 



BELINDA 

the subtle distinction you make, with the true Percival emphasis, 
between loving and falling in love. But I suppose I am to 
understand by loving, loving as half the world do when they 
marry.' 

*As it would be happy for half the world if they did,' 
replied Belinda, mildly, but with a firmness of tone that her 
ladyship felt. ' I should despise myself and deserve no pity 
from any human being, if, after all I have seen, I could think 
of marrying for convenience or interest.* 

' Oh ! pardon me ; I meant not to insinuate such an idea : 
even your worst enemy. Sir Philip Baddely, would acquit you 
there. I meant but to hint, my dear Belinda, that a heart such 
as yours is formed for love in its highest, purest, happiest 
state.' 

A pause ensued. 

•Such happiness can be secured only,' resumed Belinda, 

* by a union with a man of sense and virtue.' 

* A man of sense and virtue, I suppose, means Mr. Vincent,' 
said Lady Delacour : * no doubt you have lately learned in the 
same sober style that a little love will suffice with a great deal 
of esteem.' 

* I hope I have learned lately that a great deal of esteem is 
the best foundation for a great deal of love.' 

* Possibly,' said Lady Delacour ; * but we often see people 
working at the foundation all their lives without getting any 
farther.' 

* And those who build their castles of happiness in the air,' 
said Belinda, * are they more secure, wiser, or happier ? ' 

* Wiser ! I know nothing about that,' said Lady Delacour ; 

* but happier I do believe they are ; for the castle-building is 
always a labour of love^ but the foundation of drudgery is 
generally lovis labour lost. Poor Vincent will find it so.' 

< Perhaps not,' said Belinda ; • for already his solid good 
qualities ' 

* Solid good qualities 1 ' interrupted Lady Delacour : * I beg 
your pardon for interrupting you, but, my dear, you know we 
never fall in love with good qualities, except, indeed, when they 
are joined to an aquiline nose — oh ! that aquiline nose of 
Mr. Vincent's ! I am more afraid of it than of all his solid 
good qualities. He has again, I acknowledge it, much the 
advantage of Clarence Hervey in personal accomplishments. 

350 



PEU A PEU 

But you are not a woman to be decided by personal accom- 
plishments.' 

' And you will not allow me to be decided by solid good 
qualities,' said Belinda. < So by what must I be determined ? ' 

* By your heart, my dear ; by your heart : trust your heart 
only.* 

* Alas ! ' said Belinda, • how many, many women have 
deplored their having trusted to their hearts only.' 

* Their hearts ! but I said your heart : mind your pronouns, 
my dear ; that makes all the difference. But, to be serious, 
tell me, do you really and bona fide^ as my old uncle the 
lawyer used to say, love Mr. Vincent ? * 

* No,' said Belinda, * I do not love him yet.' 

* But for that emphatic yety how I should have worshipped 
you ! I wish I could once clearly understand the state of your 
mind about Mr. Vincent, and then I should be able to judge 
how far I might indulge myself in raillery without being 
absolutely impertinent. So without intruding upon your con- 
fidence, tell me whatever you please.' 

* I will tell you all I know of my own mind,' replied Belinda, 
looking up with an ingenuous countenance. * I esteem Mr. 
Vincent ; I am grateful to him for the proofs he has given me 
of steady attachment, and of confidence in my integrity. I 
like his manners and the frankness of his temper ; but I do 
not yet love him, and till I do, no earthly consideration could 
prevail upon me to marry him.' 

^ Perfectly satisfactory, my dear Belinda ; and yet I cannot 
be quite at ease whilst Mr. Vincent is present, and my poor 
Clarence absent : proximity is such a dangerous advantage 
even with the wisest of us. The absent lose favour so quickly 
in Cupid's court, as in all other courts ; and they are such 
victims to false reports and vile slanderers 1 ' 

Belinda sighed. 

* Thank you for that sigh, my dear,' said Lady Delacour. 
* May I ask, would you, if you discovered that Mr. Vincent 
had a Virginia, discard him for ever from your thoughts ? ' 

* If I discovered that he had deceived and behaved dis- 
honourably to any woman, I certainly should banish him for 
ever from my regard.' 

* With as much ease as you banished Clarence Hervey ? ' 

* With more, perhaps.' 

351 



BELINDA 

the subtle distinction you make, with the true Percival emphasis, 
between loving and falling in love. But I suppose I am to 
understand by loving, loving as half the world do when they 
marry.' 

*As it would be happy for half the world if they did,' 
replied Belinda, mildly, but with a firmness of tone that her 
ladyship felt. ' I should despise myself and deserve no pity 
from any human being, if, after all I have seen, I could think 
of marrying for convenience or interest.' 

' Oh ! pardon me ; I meant not to insinuate such an idea : 
even your worst enemy. Sir Philip Baddely, would acquit you tn 

there. I meant but to hint, my dear Belinda, that a heart such ^el 

as yours is formed for love in its highest, purest, happiest k^ 

state.' 

A pause ensued. < 

'Such happiness can be secured only,' resumed Belinda, ^ 

* by a union with a man of sense and virtue.' 'Uin^ 

* A man of sense and virtue, I suppose, means Mr. Vincent,' ho^ 
said Lady Delacour : * no doubt you have lately learned in the ^bso 
same sober style that a little love will suffice with a great deal ^dec 
of esteem.' * 

* I hope I have learned lately that a great deal of esteem is ^^^ki 
the best foundation for a great deal of love.' ^'iJo 

* Possibly,' said Lady Delacour ; * but we often see people ^ ste 
working at the foundation all their lives without getting any "^e Ii 
farther.' ^^ yet 

* And those who build their castles of happiness in the air,' Pfevajj 
said Belinda, * are they more secure, wiser, or happier ? ' *^ci3 

* Wiser ! I know nothing about that,' said Lady Delacour ; * qoit^ 

* but happier I do believe they are ; for the castle-building is -''•"ciice 
always a labour of love, but the foundation of drudgery is 'Qi wfj^ 
generally lov^s labour lost. Poor Vincent will find it so.' • ^xx^^^^ 

< Perhaps not,' said Belinda ; < for already his solid good ^ ^ 

qualities ' ^efin^ 

* Solid good qualities ! ' interrupted Lady Delacour : * I beg Hja^t. 
your pardon for interrupting you, but, my dear, you know we <?[ 



good qualities. He has again, I acknowledge it, much the 



never fall in love with good qualities, except, indeed, when they i\W,, 
are joined to an aquiline nose — oh ! that aquiline nose of -f / ?^ 
Mr. Vincent's ! I am more afraid of it than of all his solid >,!.> 



^bfr 



advantage of Clarence Hervey in personal accomplishments. v *^- 

35° 1^ 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 



CHAPTER XXV 

LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

The only interest that honest people can take in the fate of 
rogues is in their detection and punishment ; the reader, then, 
will be so far interested in the fate of Mr. Champfort, as to 
feel some satisfaction at his being safely lodged in Newgate. 
The circumstance which led to this desirable catastrophe was 
the anonymous letter to Mr. Vincent. From the first moment 
that Marriott saw or heard of the letter, she was convinced, 
she said, that * Mr. Champfort was at the bottom ofW Lady 
Delacour was equally convinced that Harriot Freke was the 
author of the epistle ; and she supported her opinion by 
observing, that Champfort could neither write nor spell English. 
Marriott and her lady were both right. It was a joint, or 
rather a triplicate performance. Champfort, in conjunction 
with the stupid maid, furnished the intelligence, which Mrs. 
Freke manufactured ; and when she had put the whole into 
proper style and form, Mr. Champfort got her rough draught 
fairly copied at his leisure, and transmitted his copy to Mr. 
Vincent. Now all this was discovered by a very slight circum- 
stance. The letter was copied by Mr. Champfort upon a 
sheet of mourning paper, off which he thought that he had 
carefully cut the edges ; but one bit of the black edge remained, 
which did not escape Marriott's scrutinising eye. * Lord bless 
my stars I my lady,* she exclaimed, * this must be the paper — 
I mean may be the paper — that Mr. Champfort was cutting a 
quire of, the very day before Miss Portman left town. It's a 
great while ago, but I remember it as well as if it was yesterday. 
I saw a parcel of black jags of paper littering the place, and 
asked what had been going on ? and was told, that it was only 
Mr. Champfort who had been cutting some paper ; which, to 
be sure, I concluded my lord had given to him, having no 
further occasion for, — as my lord and you, my lady, were just 
going out of mourning at that time, as you may remember.' 

Lord Delacour, when the paper was shown to him, recog- 
nised it immediately by a private mark which he had put on 

2 A 353 



BELINDA 

the subtle distinction you make, with the true Percival emphasis, 
between loving and falling in love. But I suppose I am to 
understand by loving, loving as half the world do when they 
marry.' 

*As it would be happy for half the world if they did,' 
replied Belinda, mildly, but with a firmness of tone that her 
ladyship felt. * I should despise myself and deserve no pity 
from any human being, if, after all I have seen, I could think 
of marrying for convenience or interest.' 

' Oh ! pardon me ; I meant not to insinuate such an idea : 
even your worst enemy. Sir Philip Baddely, would acquit you 
there. I meant but to hint, my dear Belinda, that a heart such 
as yours is formed for love in its highest, purest, happiest 
state.' 

A pause ensued. 

'Such happiness can be secured only,' resumed Belinda, 

* by a union with a man of sense and virtue.' 

* A man of sense and virtue, I suppose, means Mr. Vincent,' 
said Lady Delacour : ' no doubt you have lately learned in the 
same sober style that a little love will suffice with a great deal 
of esteem.' 

* I hope I have learned lately that a great deal of esteem is 
the best foundation for a great deal of love.' 

* Possibly,' said Lady Delacour ; * but we often see people 
working at the foundation all their lives without getting any 
farther.' 

* And those who build their castles of happiness in the air,' 
said Belinda, * are they more secure, wiser, or happier ? ' 

' Wiser ! I know nothing about that,' said Lady Delacour ; 

* but happier I do believe they are ; for the castle-building is 
always a labour of love^ but the foundation of drudgery is 
generally lovis labour lost Poor Vincent will find it so.' 

* Perhaps not,' said Belinda ; * for already his solid good 
qualities ' 

* Solid good qualities 1 ' interrupted Lady Delacour : * I beg 
your pardon for interrupting you, but, my dear, you know we 
never fall in love with good qualities, except, indeed, when they 
are joined to an aquiline nose — oh ! that aquiline nose of 
Mr. Vincent's ! I am more afraid of it than of all his solid 
good qualities. He has again, I acknowledge it, much the 
advantage of Clarence Hervey in personal accomplishments. 

350 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

was disappointed by Clarence Hervey's not appearing, did not 
attempt to delay their departure. She contented herself with 
leaving a note, to be delivered to him on his arrival, which, 
she still flattered herself, would induce him immediately to go 
to Harrowgate. The trunks were fastened upon the carriages, 
the imperial was carrying out, Marriott was full of a world of 
business. Lord Delacour was looking at his horses as usual, 
Helena was patting Mr. Vincent's great dog, and Belinda was 
rallying her lover upon his taste for *the pomp, pride, and 
circumstance' of glorious travelling — when an express arrived 
from Oakly Park. It was to delay their journey for a few 
weeks. Mr. Percival and Lady Anne wrote word, that they 
were imexpectedly called from home by . Lady Dela- 
cour did not stay to read by what, or by whom, she was so 
much delighted by this reprieve. Mr. Vincent bore the dis- 
appointment as well as could be expected ; particnilarly when 
Belinda observed, to comfort him, that * the mind is its own 
place ' ; and that hers, she believed, would be the same at 
Twickenham as at Oakly Park. Nor did she give him any 
reason to regret that she was not immediately under the 
influence of his own friends. The dread of being imduly 
biassed by Lady Delacour, and the strong desire Belinda felt 
to act honourably by Mr. Vincent, to show him that she was 
not trifling with his happiness, and that she was incapable of 
the meanness of retaining a lover as dLpis-aller^ were motives 
which acted more powerfully in his favour than all that even 
Lady Anne Percival could have looked or said. The contrast 
between the openness and decision of his conduct towards her, 
and Clarence Hervey^s vacillation and mystery ; the belief that 
Mr. Hervey was or ought to be attached to another woman ; 
the conviction that Mr. Vincent was strongly attached to her, 
and that he possessed many of the good qualities essential to 
her happiness, operated every day more and more strongly 
upon Belinda's mind. 

Where was Clarence Hervey all this time ? Lady Delacour, 
alas ! could not divine. She every morning was certain that 
he would appear that day, and every night she was forced to 
acknowledge her mistake. No inquiries — and she had made 
all that could be made, by address and perseverance — ^no 
inquiries could clear up the mystery of Virginia and Mrs. 
Ormond ; and her impatience to see her friend Clarence every 

355 



BELINDA 

hour increased. She was divided between her confidence in 
him and her affection for Belinda ; unwilling to give him up, 
yet afraid to injure her happiness, or to offend her, by injudi- 
cious advice, and improper interference. One thing kept Lady 
Delacour for some time in spirits — Miss Portman's assurance 
that she would not bind herself by any promise or engagement 
to Mr. Vincent, even when decided in his favour ; and that she 
should hold both him and herself perfectly free till they were 
actually married. This was according to Lady Anne and Mr. 
Percival's principles : and Lady Delacour was never tired of 
expressing directly or indirectly her admiration of the prudence 
and propriety of their doctrine. 

Lady Delacour recollected her own promise, to give her 
sincere congratulations to the victorious knight; and she 
endeavoured to treat Mr. Vincent with impartiality. She was, 
however, now still less inclined to like him, from a discovery, 
which she accidentally made, of his being still upon good 
terms with odious Mrs, Luttridge, Helena, one morning, was 
playing with Mr. Vincent's large dog, of which he was ex- 
cessively fond. It was called Juba, after his faithful servant 

* Helena, my dear,' said Lady Delacour, * take care ! don't 
trust your hand in that creature's monstrous mouth.' 

* I can assure your ladyship,' cried Mr. Vincent, * that he is 
the very quietest and best creature in the world.' 

* No doubt,' said Belinda, smiling, * since he belongs to you ; 
for you know, as Mr. Percival tells you, everything animate 
or inanimate that is under your protection, you think must be 
the best of its kind in the universe.' 

*But, really, Juba is the best creature in the world,' re- 
peated Mr. Vincent, with great eagerness. *Juba is, without 
exception, the best creature in the universe.' 

*Juba, the dog, or Juba, the man?' said Belinda: *you 
know, they cannot be both the best creatures in the universe.' 

* Well I Juba, the man, is the best man — and Juba, the dog, 
is the best dog, in the universe,' said Mr. Vincent, laughing, 
with his usual candour, at his own foible, when it was pointed 
out to him. * But, seriously, Lady Delacour, you need not be 
in the least afraid to trust Miss Delacour with this poor fellow ; 
for, do you know, during a whole month that I lent him to Mrs. 
Luttridge, at Harrowgate, she used constantly to let him sleep 
in the room with her ; and now, whenever he sees her, he licks 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

her hand as gently as if he were a lapdog ; and it was but 
yesterday, when I had him there, she declared he was more 
gentle than any lapdog in London.' 

At the name of Luttridge, Lady Delacour changed counte- 
nance, and she continued silent for some time. Mr. Vincent, 
attributing her sudden seriousness to dislike or fear of his dog, 
took him out of the room. 

* My dear Lady Delacour,' said Belinda, observing that she 
still retained an air of displeasure, ' I hope your antipathy to 
odious Mrs, Luttridge does not extend to everybody who 
visits her.' 

* Tout au contraire,' cried Lady Delacour, starting from her 
reverie, and assuming a playful manner : < I have made a 
general gaol- delivery of all my old hatreds ; and even odious 
Mrs. Luttridge, though a hardened offender, must be included in 
this act of grace : so you need not fear that Mr. Vincent should 
fall under my royal displeasure for consorting with this state 
criminal. Though I can't sympathise with him, I forgive him, 
both for liking that great dog, and that little woman ; especi- 
ally, as I shrewdly suspect, that he likes the lady's £ O table 
better than the lady.' 

* E O table ! Good Heavens ! you do not imagine Mr. 
Vincent— — ^ 

* Nay, my dear, don't look so terribly alarmed ! I assure 
you, I did not mean to hint that there was any serious, im- 
proper attachment to the E O table ; only a little flirtation, 
perhaps, to which his passion for you has, doubtless, put a 
stop.' 

* I'll ask him the moment I see him,' cried Belinda, * if he 
is fond of play : I know he used to play at billiards at Oakly 
Park, but merely as an amusement. Games of address are 
not to be put upon a footing with games of hazard.' 

*A man may, however, contrive to lose a good deal of 
money at billiards, as poor Lord Delacour can tell you. But 
I beseech you, my dear, do not betray me to Mr. Vincent; 
ten to one I am mistaken, for his great dog put me out of 

humour ^ 

But with such a doubt upon my mind, unsatisfied ' 

' It shall be satisfied ; Lord Delacour shall make inquiries 
for me. Lord Delacour shall make inquiries, did I say? — 
will^ I should have said. If Champfort had heard me, to 

357 



BELINDA 

what excellent account he might have turned that unlucky 
shalL What a nice grammarian a woman had need to be, 
who would live well with a husband inferior to her in under- 
standing 1 With a superior or an equal, she might use shall 
and will as inaccurately as she pleases. Glorious privilege ! 
How I shall envy it you, my dear Belinda I But how can you 
ever hope to enjoy it ? Where is your superior ? Where is 
your equal ? ' 

Mr. Vincent, who had by this time seen his dog fed, which 
was one of his daily pleasures, returned, and politely assured 
Lady Delacour that Juba should not again intrude. To make 
her peace with Mr. Vincent, and to drive the E O table from 
Belinda^s thoughts, her ladyship now turned the conversation 
from Juba the dog, to Juba the man. She talked of Harriot 
Freke's phosphoric Obeah woman, of whom, she said, she had 
heard an account from Miss Portman. From thence she 
went on to the African slave trade, by way of contrast, and she 
finished precisely where she intended, and where Mr. Vincent 
could have wished, by praising a poem called *The Dying 
Negro,' which he had the preceding evening brought to read 
to Belinda. This praise was peculiarly agreeable, because he 
was not perfectly sure of his own critical judgment, and his 
knowledge of English literature was not as extensive as 
Clarence Hervey's ; a circumstance which Lady Delacour had 
discovered one morning, when they went to see Pope's famous 
villa at Twickenham. Flattered by her present confirmation 
of his taste, Mr. Vincent readily complied with a request to 
read the poem to Belinda. They were all deeply engaged by 
the charms of poetry, when they were suddenly interrupted by 
the entrance of — Clarence Hervey ! 

The book dropped from Vincenf s hand the instant that he 
heard his name. Lady Delacour's eyes sparkled with joy. 
Belinda's colour rose, but her coimtenance maintained an 
expression of calm dignity. Mr. Hervey, upon his first en- 
trance, appeared prepared to support an air of philosophic 
composure, which forsook him before he had walked across 
the room. He seemed overpowered by the kindness with 
which Lady Delacour received his congratulations on her 
recovery- — struck by the reserve of Belinda's manner — ^but not 
surprised, or displeased, at the sight of Mr. Vincent On the 
contrary, he desired immediately to be introduced to him, with 

358 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

the air of a man resolute to cultivate his friendship. Provoked 
and perplexed, Lady Delacour, in a tone of mingled reproach 
and astonishment, exclaimed, * Though you have not done me 
the honour, Mr. Hervey, to take any other notice of my last 
letter, I am to understand, I presume, by the manner in which 
you desire me to introduce you to our friend Mr. Vincent, that 
it has been received.' 

* Received ! Good Heavens 1 have not you had my 
answer?' cried Clarence Hervey, with a voice and look of 
extreme surprise and emotion : * Has not your ladyship re- 
ceived a packet ? ' 

* I have had no packet — I have had no letter. Mr. Vincent, 
do me the favour to ring the bell,' cried Lady Delacour, 
eagerly ; * I'll know, this instant, what's become of it.' 

'Your ladyship must have thought me ,' and, as 

he spoke, his eye involuntarily glanced towards Belinda. 

* No matter what I thought you,' cried Lady Delacour, who 
forgave him everything for this single glance ; * if I did you a 
little injustice, Clarence, when I was angry, you must forgive 
me ; for, I assure you, I do you a great deal of justice at 
other times.' 

* Did any letter, any packet, come here for me ? Inquire, 
inquire,' said she, impatiently, to the servant who came in. 
No letter or packet was to be heard of. It had been directed, 
Mr. Hervey now remembered, to her ladyship's house in town. 
She gave orders to have it immediately sent for ; but scarcely 
had she given them, when, turning to Mr. Hervey, she laughed 
and said, * A very foolish compliment to you and your letter, 
for you certainly can speak as well as you can write ; nay, 
better, I think — though you don't write ill, neither — but you 
can tell me, in two words, what in writing would take half a 
volume. Leave this gentleman and lady to "The Dying 
Negro," and let me hear your two words in Lord Delacour's 
dressing-room, if you please,' said she, opening the door of an 
adjoining apartment. * Lord Delacour will not be jealous if 
he find you tite-d,-tite with me, I promise you. But you 
shall not be compelled. You look ' 

* I look,' said Mr. Hervey, affecting to laugh, * as if I felt 
the impossibility of putting half a volume into two words. It 
is a long story, and ' 

* And I must wait for the packet, whether I will or no — 

359 



BELINDA 

well, be it so,* said Lady Delacour. Struck with the extreme 
perturbation into which he was thrown, she pressed him with 
no farther raillery, but instantly attempted to change the 
conversation to general subjects. 

Again she had recourse to * The Dying Negro.' Mr. Vincent, 
to whom she now addressed herself, said, 'For my part, I 
neither have, nor pretend to have, much critical taste ; but I 
admire in this poem the manly, energetic spirit of virtue which 
it breathes.* From the poem, an easy transition was made to 
the author ; and Clarence Hervey, exerting himself to join in 
the conversation, observed, *that this writer (Mr. Day) was 
an instance that genuine eloquence must spring from the 
heart. Cicero was certainly right,* continued he, addressing 
himself to Mr. Vincent, * in his definition of a great orator, to 
make it one of the first requisites, that he should be a good 
man.* 

Mr. Vincent coldly replied, * This definition would exclude 
too many men of superior talents, to be easily admitted.* 

* Perhaps the appearance of virtue,* said Belinda, * might, 
on many occasions, succeed as well as the reality.' 

* Yes, if the man be as good an actor as Mr. Hervey,* said 
Lady Delacour, 'and if he suit "the action to the word** — 
" the word to the action.** * 

Belinda never raised her eyes whilst her ladyship uttered 
these words ; Mr. Vincent was, or seemed to be, so deeply 
engaged in looking for something in the book, which he held 
in his hand, that he could take no farther part in the conversa- 
tion ; and a dead silence ensued. 

Lady Delacour, who was naturally impatient in the extreme, 
especially in the vindication of her friends, could not bear to 
see, as she did by Belinda's countenance, that she had not 
forgotten Marriott's story of Virginia St. Pierre ; and though 
her ladyship was convinced that the packet would clear up all 
mysteries, yet she could not endure that even in the interim 
* poor Clarence * should be unjustly suspected ; nor could she 
refrain from trying an expedient, which just occurred to her, 
to satisfy herself and everybody present. She was the first to 
break silence. 

* To do ye justice, my friends, you are all good company this 
morning. Mr. Vincent is excusable, because he is in love ; and 
Belinda is excusable, because — because — Mr. Hervey, pray 

360 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

help me to an excuse for Miss Portman*s stupidity, for I am 
dreadfully afraid of blundering out the truth. But why do I 
ask you to help me ? In your present condition, you seem 
totally imable to help yourself. — Not a word ! — Run over the 
commonplaces of conversation — weather — fashion-^scandal — 
dress — deaths — marriages. — Will none of these do ? Suppose, 
then, you were to entertain me with other people's thoughts, 
since you have none of your own unpacked — Forfeit to arbitrary 
power,' continued her ladyship, playfully seizing Mr. Vincent's 
book. * I have always observed that none submit with so good a 
grace to arbitrary power from our sex as your true men of spirit, 
who would shed the last drop of their blood to resist it from one 
of their own. Inconsistent creatures, the best of you 1 So read 
this charming little poem to us, Mr. Hervey, will you ? ' 

He was going to begin immediately, but Lady Delacour put 
her hand upon the book, and stopped him. 

* Stay ; though I am tyrannical, I will not be treacherous. 
I warn you, then, that I have imposed upon you a difficult, a 
dangerous task. If you have any " sins unwhipt of justice," 
there are lines which I defy you to read without faltering — listen 
to the preface.' 

Her ladyship began as follows : 

* Mr. Day, indeed, retained during all the period of his life, 
as might be expected from his character, a strong detestation of 
female seduction. . . . Happening to see some verses, written 
by a young lady, on a recent event of this nature, which was 
succeeded by a fatal catastrophe — the imhappy young woman, 
who had been a victim to the perfidy of a lover, overpowered 
by her sensibility of shame, having died of a broken heart — he 
expresses his sympathy with the fair poetess in the following 
manner.' 

Lady Delacour paused, and fixed her eyes upon Clarence 
Hervey. He, with all the appearance of conscious innocence, 
received the book, without hesitation, from her hands, and read 
aloud the lines, to which she pointed. 

' Swear by the dread avengers of the tomb, 
By all thy hopes, by death's tremendous gloom, 
That ne*er by thee deceived, the tender maid 
Shall mourn her easy confidence betray'd, 

361 



BELINDA 

Nor weep in secret the triumphant art, 

With bitter anguish rankling in her heart ; 

So may each blessing, which impartial fate 

Throws on the good, but snatches from the great, 

Adorn thy favoured course with rays divine, 

And Heaven's best gift, a virtuous love, be thine ! ' 

Mr. Hervey read these lines with so much unaffected, unem- 
barrassed energy, that Lady Delacour could not help casting a 
triumphant look at Belinda, which said or seemed to say — you 
see I was right in my opinion of Clarence ! 

Had Mr. Vincent been left to his own observations, he would 
have seen the simple truth ; but he was alarmed and deceived 
by Lady Delacour's imprudent expressions of joy, and by the 
significant looks that she gave her friend Miss Portman, which 
seemed to be looks of mutual intelligence. He scarcely dared 
to turn his eyes toward his mistress, or upon him whom he 
thought his rival : but he kept them anxiously fixed upon her 
ladyship, in whose face, as in a glass, he seemed to study 
everything that was passing. 

* Pray, have you ever played at chess, since we saw you last ? ' 
said Lady Delacour to Clarence. * I hope you do not forget 
that you are my knight. I do not forget it, I assure you — I 
own you as my knight to all the world, in public and private 
— do not I, Belinda ? ' 

A dark cloud overspread Mr. Vincent's brow — he listened 
not to Belinda's answer. Seized with a transport of jealousy, 
he darted at Mr. Hervey a glance of mingled scorn and rage ; 
and, after saying a few unintelligible words to Miss Portman 
and Lady Delacour, he left the room. 

Clarence Hervey, who seemed afraid to trust himself longer 
with Belinda, withdrew a few minutes afterward. 

* My dear Belinda,' exclaimed Lady Delacour, the moment 
that he was out of the room, * how glad I am he is gone, that 
I may say all the good I think of him ! In the first place, 
Clarence Hervey loves you. Never was I so fully convinced 
of it as this day. Why had we not that letter of his sooner ? 
that will explain all to us : but I ask for no explanation, I ask 
for no letter, to confirm my opinion, my conviction — that he 
loves you; on this point I cannot be mistaken — ^he fondly 
loves you.' 

* He fondly loves her ! — ^Yes, to be sure, I could have told 

362 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

you that news long ago,' cried the dowager Lady Boucher, 
who was in the room before they were aware of her entrance ; 
they had both been so eager, the one listening, and the other 
speaking. 

* Fondly loves her 1 ' repeated the dowager : * yes ; and no 
secret, I promise you, Lady Delacour : ' and then, turning to 
Belinda, she began a congratulatory speech, upon the report of 
her approaching marriage with Mr. Vincent. Belinda absolutely 
denied the truth of this report : but the dowager continued, * I 
distress you, I see, and it's quite out of rule, I am sensible, to 
speak in this sort of way. Miss Portman ; but as I'm an old 
acquaintance, and an old friend, and an old woman, you'll 
excuse me. I can't help saying, I feel quite rejoiced at your 
meeting with such a match.' Belinda again attempted to 
declare that she was not going to be married ; but the in- 
vincible dowager went on : * Every way eligible, and every way 
agreeable. A charming young man, I hear, Lady Delacour : 
I see I must only speak to you, or I shall make Miss Port- 
man sink to the centre of the earth, which I would not wish to n 
do, especially at such a critical moment as this. A charming 
young man, I hear, with a noble West Indian fortune, and a 
noble spirit, and well connected, and passionately in love — no 
wonder. But I have done now, I promise you ; I'll ask no 
questions : so don't run away. Miss Portman ; I'll ask no 
questions, I promise you.' 

To ensure the performance of the promise. Lady Delacour 
asked what news there was in the world ? This question, she 
knew, would keep the dowager in delightful employment. * I 
live quite out of the world here ; but since Lady Boucher has 
the charity to come to see me, we shall hear all the " secrets 
worth knowing," from the best authority.' 

* Then, the first piece of news I have for you is, that my 
Lord and my Lady Delacour are absolutely reconciled ; and 
that they are the happiest couple that ever lived.' 

* All very true,' replied Lady Delacour. 

* True ! ' repeated Lady Boucher : * why, my dear Lady 
Delacour, you amaze me ! — Are you in earnest ? — Was there 
ever anything so provoking ? — There have I been contradicting 
the report, wherever I went; for I was convinced that the 
whole story was a mistake, and a fabrication.' 

* The history of the reformation might not be exact, but the 

363 



BELINDA 

reformation itself your ladyship may depend upon, since you 
hear it from my own lips.' 

* Well, how amazing ! how incredible ! — Lord bless me ! 
But your ladyship certainly is not in earnest ? for you look just 
the same, and speak just in the same sort of way : I see no 
alteration, I confess.' 

*And what alteration, my good Lady Boucher, did you 
expect to see ? Did you think that, by way of being exemplarily 

virtuous, I should, like Lady Q , let my sentences come out 

of my mouth only at the rate of a word a minute ? 

'Like — minuter-drops — from — oflf — the — eaves. 

Or did you expect that, in hopes of being a pattern for the 
rising generation, I should hold my features in penance, im- 
movably, thus — ^like some of the poor ladies of Antigua, who, 
after they have blistered their faces all over, to get a fine com- 
plexion, are forced, whilst the new skin is coming, to sit without 
speaking, smiling, or moving muscle or feature, lest an indelible 
wrinkle should be the consequence ? ' 

Lady Boucher was impatient to have this speech finished, 
for she had a piece of news to tell. * Well ! ' cried she, * there's 
no knowing what to believe or disbelieve, one hears so many 
strange reports ; but I have a piece of news for you, that you 
may all depend upon. I have one secret worth knowing, I can 
tell your ladyship — and one, your ladyship and Miss Portman, 
Pm sure, will be rejoiced to hear. Your friend, Clarence 
Hervey, is going to be married.' 

* Married 1 married ! ' cried Lady Delacour. 

< Ay, ay, your ladyship may look as much astonished as you 
please, you cannot be more so than I was when I heard it. 
Clarence Hervey, Miss Portman, that was looked upon so 
completely, you know, as not a marrying man ; and now the 
last man upon earth that your ladyship would suspect of 
marrying in this sort of way 1 ' 

* In what sort of way? — My dear Belinda, how can you 
stand this fire ? ' said Lady Delacour, placing a screen, dexter- 
ously, to hide her face from the dowager's observation. 

* Now only guess whom he is going to marry,' continued 
Lady Boucher : * whom do j^ou guess. Miss Portman ? ' 

*An amiable woman, I should guess, from Mr. Hervey's 
general character,' cried Lady Delacour. 

364 



BELINDA 

* Oh, an amiable woman, I take for granted ; every woman 
is amiable of course, as the newspapers tell us, when she is 
going to be married,' said the dowager : * an amiable woman, 
to be sure ; but that means nothing. I have not had a guess 
from Miss Portman.' 

' From general character,' Belinda began, in a constrained 
voice. 

* Do not guess from general character, my dear Belinda,' 
interrupted Lady Delacour ; * for there is no judging, in these 
cases, from general character, of what people will like or 
dislike.' 

* Then I will leave it to your ladyship to guess this time, if 
you please,' said Belinda. 

* You will neither of you guess till doomsday ! ' cried the 
dowager ; * I must tell you. Mr. Herve/s going to marry — 
in the strangest sort of way I — a girl that nobody knows — a 
daughter of a Mr. Hartley. The father can give her a good 
fortune, it is true ; but one should not have supposed that 
fortune was an object with Mr. Hervey, who has such a noble 
one of his own. It's really difficult to believe it.' 

<So difficult, that I find it quite impossible,' said Lady 
Delacour, with an incredulous smile. 

* Depend upon it, my dear Lady Delacour,' said the dowager,^ 
laying the convincing weight of her arm upon her ladyship's, 

' depend upon it, my dear Lady Delacour, that my information 
is correct. Guess whom I had it from.' 

* Willingly. But first let me tell you, that I have seen 
Mr. Hervey within this half hour, and I never saw a man look 
less like a bridegroom.' 

'Indeed! well, I've heard, too, that he didn't like the match : 
but what a pity, when you saw him yourself this morning, 
that you didn't get all the particulars out of him. But let him 
look like what he will, you'll find that my information is perfectiy 
correct. Guess whom I had it from — fi*om Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour : it was at her house that Clarence Hervey first met 
Mr. Hartley, who, as I mentioned, is the father of the young 
lady. There was a charming scene, and some romantic story, 
about his finding the girl in a cottage, and calling her Virginia 
something or other, but I didn't clearly understand about that. 
However, this much is certain, that the girl, as her father told 
Mrs. Delacour, is desperately in love with Mr. Hervey, and 

366 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

they are to be married immediately. Depend upon it, you*ll 
find my information correct. Good morning to you. Lord 
bless me ! now I recollect, I once heard that Mr. Hervey was 
a great admirer of Miss Portman/ said the dowager. 

The inquisitive dowager, whose curiosity was put upon a 
new scent, immediately fastened her eyes upon Belinda's face ; 
but from that she could make out nothing. Was it because 
she had not the best eyes, or because there was nothing to be 
seen.? To determine this question, she looked through her 
glass, to take a clearer view; but Lady Delacour drew off 
her attention, by suddenly exclaiming — *My dear Lady 
Boucher, when you go back to town, do send me a bottle of 
concentrated anima of quassia.' 

* Ah ! ah ! have I made a convert of you at last ? ' said the 
dowager ; and, satisfied with the glory of this conversion, she 
departed. 

* Admire my knowledge of human nature, my dear Belinda,' 
said Lady Delacour. < Now she will talk, at the next place 
she goes to, of nothing but of my faith in anima of quassia ; 
and she will forget to make a gossiping story out of that most 
imprudent hint I gave her, about Clarence Hervey's having 
been an admirer of yours.' 

' Do not leave the room, Belinda ; I have a thousand things 
to say to you, my dear.' 

< Excuse me, at present, my dear Lady Delacour ; I am 
impatient to write a few lines to Mr. Vincent. He went 
away ' 

Mn a fit of jealousy, and I am glad of it.' 

* And I am sorry for it,' said Belinda ; * sorry that he should 
have so little confidence in me as to feel jealousy without cause 
— without sufficient cause, I should say; for certainly your 
ladyship gave pain, by the manner in which you received 
Mr. Hervey.' 

* Lord, my dear, you would spoil any man upon earth. You 
could not act more foolishly if the man were your husband. 
Are you privately married to him ? — If you be not — for my 
sake — for your own — for Mr. Vincent's — do not write till we 
see the contents of Clarence Hervey's packet.' 

' It can make no alteration in what I write,' said Belinda. 

* Well, my dear, write what you please ; but I only hope 
you will not send your letter till the packet arrives.' 

367 



BELINDA 

< Pardon me, I shall send it as soon as I possibly can : the 
" dear delight of giving pain " does not suit my taste.' 

Lady Delacour, as soon as she was left alone, began to 
reconsider the dowager's story ; notwithstanding her unbelieving 
smile, it alarmed her, for she could not refuse to give it some 
degree of credit, when she learnt that Mrs. Margaret Delacour 
was the authority from whom it came. Mrs. Delacour was a 
woman of scrupulous veracity, and rigid in her dislike to gossip- 
ing ; so that it was scarcely probable a report originating with 
her, however it might be altered by the way, should prove to be 
totally void of foundation. The name of Virginia coincided with 
Sir Philip Baddely's hints, and with Marriott's discoveries : 
these circumstances considered. Lady Delacour knew not what 
opinion to form ; and her eagerness to receive Mr. Hervey's 
packet every moment increased. She walked up and down 
the room — looked at her watch — fancied that it had stopped — 
held it to her ear — rang the bell every quarter of an hour, to 
inquire whether the messenger was not yet come back. At 
last, the long-expected packet arrived. She seized it, and 
hurried with it immediately to Belinda's room. 

* Clarence Hervey's packet, my love ! — Now, woe be to the 
person who interrupts us ! ' She bolted the door as she spoke 
— rolled an arm-chair to the fire — * Now for it ! ' said she, seat- 
ing herself. * The devil upon two sticks, if he were looking 
down upon me from the house-top, or Champfort, who is the 
worse devil of the two, would, if he were peeping through the 
keyhole, swear I was going to open a love-letter — and so I 
hope I am. Now for it ! ' cried she, breaking the seal. 

* My dear friend,' said Belinda, laying her hand upon Lady 
Delacour's, * before we open this packet, let me speak to you, 
whilst our minds are calm.' 

* Calm ! It is the strangest time for your mind to be calm. 
But I must not affront you by my incredulity. Speak, then, but 
be quick, for I do not pretend to be calm ; it not being, thank 
my stars, mon mdHer c^itre philosophe. Crack goes the last 
seal — speak now, or for ever after hold your tongue, my calm 
philosopher of Oakly Park : but do you wish me to attend to 
what you are going to say ? ' 

* Yes,' replied Belinda, smiling ; * that is the usual wish of 
those who speak.' 

* Very true : and I can listen tolerably well, when I don't 

368 



LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG 

know what people are going to say ; but when I know it all 
beforehand, I have an unfortunate habit of not being able to 
attend to one word. Now, my dear, let me anticipate your 
speech, and if my anticipation be wrong, then you shall rise to 
explain ; and I will,' said she (putting her finger on her lips), 
* listen to you, like Harpocrates, without moving an eyelash.' 

Belinda, as the most certain way of being heard, consented 
to hear before she spoke. 

* I will tell you,' pursued Lady Delacour, * if not what you 
are going to say to me, at least what you say to yourself, 
which is fully as much to the purpose. You say to yourself, 
" Let this packet of Clarence Hervey contain what it may, it 
comes too late. Let him say, or let him do, 'tis all the same 
to me — because — (now for the reasoning) — ^because things have 
gone so far with Mr. Vincent, that Lady Anne Percival and all 
the world (at Oakly Park) will blame me, if I retract In short, 
things have gone so far that I cannot recede ; because — things 
have gone so far. This is the rondeau of your argument. Nay, 
hear me out, then you shall have your turn, my dear, for an 
hour, if you please. Let things have gone ever so far, they 
can stop, and turn about again, cannot they? Lady Anne 
Percival is your friend, of course can wish only for your 
happiness. You think she is "the thing that's most un- 
common, a reasonable woman " : then she cannot be angry 
with you for being happy your own way. So I need not, as 
the orators say, labour this point any more. Now, as to your 
aunt. The fear of displeasing Mrs. Stanhope a little more or 
less is not to be put in competition with the hope of your 
happiness for life, especially as you have contrived to exist 
some months in a state of utter excommunication from her 
favour. After all, you know she will not grieve for anything 
but the loss of Mr. Vincent's fortune ; and Mr. Hervey's 
fortune might do as well, or almost as well : at least she may 
compound with her pride for" the difference, by considering that 
an English member of Parliament is, in the eyes of the world 
(the only eyes with which she sees), a better connection than 
the son of a West India planter, even though he may be a 
protege of Lady Anne Percival. 

* Spare me your indignation, my dear ! — ^What a look was 
there ! — Reasoning for Mrs. Stanhope, must not I reason as 
Mrs. Stanhope does ? — Now I will put this stronger still. Sup- 

2 B 369 



BELINDA 

pose that you had actually acknowledged that Mr. Vincent had 
got beyond esteem with you ; suppose that you had in due form 
consented to marry him ; suppose that preparations were at this 
moment making for the wedding ; even in that desperate case 
I should say to you, you are not a girl to marry because your 
wedding-gown is made up. Some few guineas are thrown away, 
perhaps ; do not throw away your whole happiness after them 
— that would be sorry economy. Trust me, my dear, I should 
say, as I have to you, in time of need. Or, if you fear to be 
obliged to one who never was afraid of being obliged to you, 
ten to one the preparations for a wedding, though not the 
wedding, may be necessary immediately. No matter to Mrs. 
Franks who the bridegroom may be ; so that her bill be paid, 
she would not care the turning of a feather whether it be paid 
by Mrs. Vincent or Mrs. Hervey. I hope I have convinced, 
I am sure I have made you blush, my dear, and that is some 
satisfaction. A blush at this moment is an earnest of victory, 
lo, triumphe ! Now I will open my packet ; my hand shall 
not be held an instant longer.' 

* I absolve you from the penance of hearing me for an hour, 
but I claim your promise to attend to me for a few minutes, my 
dear friend,' said Belinda : * I thank you most sincerely for your 
kindness ; and let me assure you that I should not hesitate to 
accept from you any species of obligation.' 

'Thanks I thanlcs I — there's a dear good girl 1 — my own 
Belinda ! ' 

But indeed you totally misunderstand me ; your reason- 
ing ' 

* Show me the fault of it : I challenge all the logic of all the 
Percivals.' 

* Your reasoning is excellent, if your facts were not taken for 
granted. You have taken it for granted, that Mi*. Hervey is in 
love with me.' 

* No,' said Lady Delacour ; * I take nothing for granted, as 
you will find when I open this packet.' 

* You have taken it for granted,' continued Belinda, * that I 
am still secretly attached to him ; and you take it for granted 
that I am restrained only by fear of Lady Anne Percival, my 
aunt, and the world, from breaking off with Mr. Vincent : if you 
will read the letter, which I was writing to him when you came 
into the room, perhaps you will be convinced of your mistake.' 

370 



VIRGINIA 

' Read a letter to Mr. Vincent at such a time as this 1 then 
I will go and read my packet in my own room,' cried Lady 
Delacour, rising hastily, with evident displeasure. 

* Not even your displeasure, my dear friend,' said Belinda, 
*can alter my determination to behave with consistency and 
openness towards Mr. Vincent ; and I can bear your anger, for 
I know it arises from your regard for me.' 

* I never loved you so little as at this instant, Belinda.' 

* You will do me justice when you are cool.' 

< Cool ! ' repeated Lady Delacour, as she was about to leave 
the room, ' I never wish to be as cool as you are, Belinda ! 
So, after all, you love Mr. Vincent — ^you'll marry Mr. Vincent I ' 

< I never said so,' replied Belinda : < you have not read my 
letter. O Lady Delacour, at this instant — you should not 
reproach me.' 

* I did you injustice,' cried Lady Delacour, as she now 
looked at Belinda's letter. * Send it — send it — ^you have said 
the very thing you ought ; and now sit down with me to this 
packet of Clarence Herve/s — be just to him, as you are to 
Mr. Vincent, that's all I ask — give him a fair hearing : — now 
for it' 



CHAPTER XXVI 

VIRGINIA 

Clarence Hervey's packet contained a history of his con- 
nection with Virginia St. Pierre. 

To save our hero from the charge of egotism, we shall 
relate the principal circumstances in the third person. 

It was about a year before he had seen Belinda that Clarence 
Hervey returned from his travels ; he had been in France just 
before the Revolution, when luxury and dissipation were at their 
height in Paris, and when a universal spirit of licentious gal- 
lantry prevailed. Some circumstances in which he was per- 
sonally interested disgusted him strongly with the Parisian 
belles ; he felt that women who were full of vanity, affectation, 
and artifice, whose tastes were perverted, and whose feelings 



BELINDA 

were depraved, were equally incapable of conferring or enjoying 
real happiness. Whilst this conviction was full in his mind, he 
read the works of Rousseau : this eloquent writer's sense made 
its full impression upon Clarence's understanding, and his de- 
clamations produced more than their just effect upon an imagi- 
nation naturally ardent. He was charmed with the picture of 
Sophia, when contrasted with the characters of the women of 
the world with whom he had been disgusted ; and he formed 
the romantic project of educating a wife for himself. Full of 
this idea, he returned to England, determined to carry his 
scheme immediately into execution, but was some time delayed 
by the difficulty of finding a proper object for his purpose : it 
was easy to meet with beauty in distress, and ignorance in 
poverty ; but it was difficult to find simplicity without vulgarity, 
ingenuity without cunning, or even ignorance without prejudice ; 
it was difficult to meet with an understanding totally uncultivated, 
yet likely to reward the labour of late instruction ; a heart 
wholly unpractised, yet full of sensibility, capable of all the 
enthusiasm of passion, the delicacy of sentiment, and the firm- 
ness of rational constancy. It is not wonderful that Mr. Hervey, 
with such high expectations, should not immediately find them 
gratified. Disappointed in his first search, he did not, how- 
ever, relinquish his design ; and at length, by accident, he 
discovered, or thought that he discovered, an object formed 
expressly for his purpose. 

One fine evening in autumn, as he was riding through the 
New Forest, charmed with the picturesque beauties of the place, 
he turned out of the beaten road, and struck into a fresh track, 
which he pursued with increasing delight, till the setting sun 
reminded him that it was necessary to postpone his farther re- 
flections on forest scenery, and that it was time to think of 
finding his way out of the wood. He was now in the most 
retired part of the forest, and he saw no path to direct him ; 
but, as he stopped to consider which way he should turn, a dog 
sprang from a thicket, barking furiously at his horse : his horse 
was high-spirited, but he was master of him, and he obliged the 
animal to stand quietly till the dog, having barked himself 
hoarse, retreated of his own accord. Clarence watched to see 
which way he would go, and followed him, in hopes of meeting 
with the person to whom he belonged : he kept his guide in 
sight, till he came into a beautiful glade, in the midst of which 

372 



VIRGINIA 

was a neat but very small cottage, with numerous beehives in 
the garden, surrounded by a profusion of rose-trees which were 
in full blow. This cultivated spot was strikingly contrasted with 
the wildness of the surrounding scenery. As he came nearer, 
Mr. Hervey saw a young girl watering the rose-trees, which 
grew round the cottage, and an old woman beside her filling a 
basket with the flowers. The old woman was like most other 
old women, except that she had a remarkably benevolent 
countenance, and an air that had been acquired in better days ; 
but the young girl did not appear to Clarence like any other 
young girl that he had ever seen. The setting sun shone upon 
her countenance, the wind blew aside the ringlets of her light 
hair, and the blush of modesty overspread her cheeks when 
she looked up at the stranger. In her large blue eyes there 
was an expression of artless sensibility with which Mr. Hervey 
was so powerfully struck that he remained for some moments 
silent, totally forgetting that he came to ask his way out of the 
forest. His horse had made so little noise upon the soft grass, 
that he was within a few yards of them before he was perceived 
by the old woman. As soon as she saw him, she turned abruptly 
to the young girl, put the basket of roses into her hand, and 
bid her carry them into the house. As she passed him, the 
girl, with a sweet innocent smile, held up the basket to Clarence, 
and offered him one of the roses. 

* Go in, Rachel ! — ^go in, child,' said the old woman, in so 
loud and severe a tone, that both Rachel and Mr. Hervey 
started ; the basket was overturned, and the roses all scattered 
upon the grass. Clarence, though he attempted some apology, 
was by no means concerned for the accident, as it detained 
Rachel some instants longer to collect her flowers, and gave 
him an opportunity of admiring her flnely shaped hands and 
arms, and the ease and natural grace of her motions. 

* Go in, Rachel,' repeated the old woman, in a still more 
severe tone ; * leave the roses there — I can pick them up as 
well as you, child — go in.' 

The girl looked at the old woman with astonishment, her 
eyes filled with tears, and throwing down the roses that she 
held in her hand, she said, * I am going, grandmother.' The 
door closed after her before Clarence recollected himself 
sufficiently to tell the old lady how he had lost his way, etc. 
Her severity vanished, as soon as her grand-daughter was safe 

373 



Mr* Htrufy tarn a ytmng ^ri wal€riitg tht rHt-traSt and att ffid wtman Wsidt krr^ 



VIRGINIA 

in the house, and with much readiness she showed him the road 
for which he inquired. 

As soon, however, as it was in his power, he returned thither ; 
for he had taken such good note of the place, that he easily 
found his way to the spot, which appeared to him a terrestrial 
paradise. As he descended into the valley, he heard the 
hununing of bees, but he saw no smoke rising from the cottage 
chinmey — no dog barked — no living creature was to be seen — 
the house door was shut — the window-shutters closed — all was 
still. The place looked as if it had been deserted by all its in- 
habitants : the roses had not been watered, many of them had 
shed their leaves ; and a basket half full of dead flowers was 
left in the middle of the garden. Clarence alighted, and tried 
the latch of the door, but it was fastened ; he listened, but heard 
no sound ; he walked round to the back of the house : a small 
lattice window was half open, and, as he went toward it, he 
thought he heard a low moaning voice ; he gently pulled aside 
the curtain, and peeped in at the window. The room was 
darkened, his eyes had been dazzled by the sun, so that he 
could not, at first, see any object distinctly ; but he heard the 
moaning repeated at intervals, and a soft voice at last said — 

* Oh, speak to me ! — speak to me once again — only once — 
only once again, speak to me ! ' 

The voice came from a comer of the room, to which he had 
not yet turned his eyes : and as he drew aside more of the 
curtain, to let in more light, a figure started up from the side of 
a bed, at which she had been kneeling, and he saw the beautiful 
young girl, with her hair all dishevelled, and the strongest ex- 
pression of grief in her countenance. He asked if he could do 
her any service. She beckoned to him to come in, and then, 
pointing to the bed, on which the old woman was stretched, 
said — 

* She cannot speak to me — she cannot move one side — she 
has been so these three days — ^but she is not dead — she is not 
dead ! ' 

The poor creature had been struck with the palsy. Asi 
Clarence went close to the bed, she opened her eyes, and fixing 
them upon him, she stretched out her withered hand, caught 
fast hold of her grand-daughter, and then raising herself, with a 
violent effort, she pronounced the word * Begone ! ' Her face 
grew black, her features convulsed, and she sunk down again in 

375 



BELINDA 

her bed, without power of utterance. Clarence left the house 
instantly, mounted his horse, and galloped to the next town for 
medical assistance. The poor woman was so far recovered by 
a skilful apothecary, that she could, in a few days, articulate so 
as to be understood. She knew that her end was approaching 
fast, and seemed piously resigned to her fate. Mr. Hervey 
went constantly to see her ; but, though grateful to him for his 
humanity, and for the assistance he had procured for her, yet 
she appeared agitated when he was in the room, and frequently 
looked at him and at her grand-daughter with uncommon 
anxiety. At last, she whispered something to the girl, who 
immediately left the room ; and she then beckoned to him to 
come closer to the arm-chair, in which she was seated. 

* May be, sir,' said she, * you thought me out of my right 
mind the day when I was lying on that bed, and said to you in 
such a peremptory tone, " Begone 1 " — It was all I could say 
then ; and, in truth, I cannot speak quite plain yet ; nor ever 
shall again. But God's will be done. I had only one thing to 
say to you, sir, about that poor girl of mine ' 

Clarence listened to her with eagerness. She paused, and 
then laying her cold hand upon his, she looked up earnestly in 
his face, and continued, * You are a fine young gentleman, and 
you look like a good gentleman ; but so did the man who broke 
the heart of her poor mother. Her mother was carried off from 
a boarding-school, when she was scarcely sixteen, by a wretch, 
who, after privately marrying her, would not own his marriage, 
stayed with her but two years, then went abroad, lefl his wife 
and his infant, and has never been heard of since. My daughter 
died of a broken heart Rachel was then between three and 
four years old ; a beautiful child. God forgive her father I — 
God's will be done ! ' — She paused to subdue her emotion, and 
then, with some difficulty, proceeded. 

* My only comfort is, I have bred Rachel up in innocence ; 
I never sent her to a boarding-school. No, no; from the 
moment of her birth till now, I have kept her under my own 
eye. In this cottage she has lived with me, away from all the 
world. You are the first man she ever spoke to ; the first man 
who ever was within these doors. She is innocence itself! — 
Oh sir, as you hope for mercy when you are as I am now, spare 
the innocence of that poor child ! — Never, never come here after 
her, when I am dead and gone ! Consider, she is but a child, 

376 



VIRGINIA 

sir. God never made a better creature. Oh, promise me you 
will not be the ruin of my sweet innocent girl, and I shall die 
in peace ! ' 

Clarence Hervey was touched. He instantly made the 
promise required of him ; and, as nothing less would satisfy the 
poor dying woman, confirmed it by a solemn oath. 

* Now I am easy,' said she, < quite easy ; and may God bless 
you for it ! In the village here, there is a Mrs. Smith, a good 
farmer's wife, who knows us well ; she will see to have me 
decently buried, and then has promised to sell all the little I 
have for my girl, and to take care of her. And you'll never 
come near her more ? ' 

* I did not promise that,' said Hervey. 

The old woman again looked much disturbed. 

' Ah, good young gentleman ! ' said she, < take my advice ; 
it will be best for you both. If you see her again, you will love 
her, sir — you can't help it ; and if she sees you — poor thing, 
how innocently she smiled when she gave you the rose 1 — oh 
sir, never come near her when I am gone ! It is too late for 
me now to get her out of your way. This night, I'm sure, will 
be my last in this world — oh, promise me you will never come 
here again ! ' 

* After the oath I have taken,' replied Clarence, * that 
promise would be unnecessary. Trust to my honour.' 

< Honour ! Oh, that was the word the gentleman said that 
betrayed her poor mother, and left her afterwards to die 1 — Oh 
sir, sir ' 

The violent emotion that she felt was too much for her — she 
fell back exhausted — never spoke more — and an hour afterwards 
she expired in the arms of her grand-daughter. The poor girl 
could not believe that she had breathed her last. She made a 
sign to the surgeon, and to Clarence Hervey, who stood beside 
her, to be silent ; and listened, fancying that the corpse would 
breathe again. Then she kissed her cold lips, and the shrivelled 
cheeks, and the eyelids that were closed for ever. She warmed 
the dead fingers with her breath — she raised the heavy arm, 
and when it fell she perceived there was no hope : she threw 
herself upon her knees : — < She is dead ! ' she exclaimed ; ' and 
she has died without giving me her blessing ! She can never 
bless me again.' 

They took her into the air, and Clarence Hervey sprinkled 

377 



BELINDA 

water upon her face. It was a fine night, and the fresh air soon 
brought her to her senses. He then said that he would leave 
her to the care of the surgeon, and ride to the village in search 
of that Mrs. Smith who had promised to be her friend. 

* And so you are going away from me, too ? ' said she ; and 
she burst into tears. At the sight of these tears Clarence 
turned away, and hurried from her. He sent the woman from 
the village, but returned no more that night. 

Her simplicity, sensibility, and, perhaps more than he was 
aware, her beauty, had pleased and touched him extremely. 
The idea of attaching a perfectly pure, disinterested, unpractised 
heart, was delightful to his imagination : the cultivation of her 
understanding, he thought, would be an easy and a pleasing 
task : all difficulties vanished before his sanguine hopes. 
- * Sensibility,' said he to himself, * is the parent of great 
talents and great virtues ; and evidently she possesses natural 
feeling in an uncommon degree : it shall be developed with 
skill, patience, and delicacy ; and I will deserve before I claim 
my reward.' 

The next day he returned to the cottage, accompanied by 
an elderly lady, a Mrs. Ormond ; the same lady who afterward, 
to Marriott's prejudiced eyes, had appeared more like a dragon 
than anything else^ but who, to this simple, unsuspicious girl, 
seemed like what she really was, a truly good-natured, 
benevolent woman. She consented, most readily, to put 
herself under the protection of Mrs. Ormond, 'provided Mrs. 
Smith would give her leave.' There was no difficulty in 
persuading Mrs. Smith that it was for her advantage. Mrs. 
Smith, who was a plain farmer's wife, told all that she knew 
of Rachel's history ; but all that she knew was little. She had 
heard only hints at odd times from the old woman : these 
agreed perfectly with what Mr. Hervey had already heard. 

* The old gentlewoman^^ said Mrs. Smith, * as I believe I 
should call her by rights, has lived in the forest there, where 
you found her, these many a year — she earned her subsistence 
by tending bees and making rose-water — she was a good soul, 
but very particular, especially about her grand-daughter, 
which, considering all things, one cannot blame her for. She 
often told me she would never put Rachel to a boarding-school, 
which I approved, seeing she had no fortune ; and it is the 
ruin of girls, to my mind, to be bred above their means — ^as it 

378 



VIRGINIA 

was of her mother, sir. Then she would never teach Rachel 
to write, for fear she should take to scrawling nonsense of 
love-letters, as her mother did before her. Now, sir, this I 
approved too, for I don't much mind about book-learning 
myself ; and I even thought it would have been as well if the 
girl had not learnt to read ; but that she did learn, and was 
always fond of, and Pm sure it was more plague than use too 
to her grandmother, for she was as particular about the books 
that the girl was to read as about all the rest. She went 
farther than all that, sir, for she never would let the girl speak 
to a man — ^not a man ever entered the doors of the house.' 

* So she told me.' 

* And she told you true enough. But there, I thought, she 
was quite wrong ; for seeing the girl must, some time or other, 
speak to men, where was the use of her not learning to do it 
properly ? — Lord, ma'am,' continued Mrs. Smith, addressing 
herself to Mrs. Ormond, ' Lord, ma'am, though it is a sin to 
be remembering so much of the particularities of the dead, I 
must say there never was an old lady who had more scrupu- 
losities than the deceased. I verily thought, one day, she 
would have gone into fits about a picture of a man, that i 
Rachel lit upon by accident, as if a picture had any sense to 
hurt a body ! Now if it had been one of your naked pictures, 
there might have been some delicacy in her dislike to it ; but 
it was no such thing, but a very proper picture. 

* A picture, ma'am, of a young sea-officer, in his full uniform 
—quite proper, ma'am. It was his mother that left it with me, 
and I had it always in my own room, and the girl saw it, and 
was mightily taken with it, being the first thing of the kind she 
had ever lit upon, and the old lady comes in, and took on^ till 
I verily thought she was crazed. Lord ! I really could not 
but laugh ; but I checked myself, when the poor old soul's eyes 
filled with tears, which made me know she was thinking of her 
daughter that was dead. When I thought on the cause of her 
particularity about Rachel, I could not laugh any more at her 
strangeness. 

' I promised the good lady that day, in case of her death, to 
take care of her grand-daughter ; and I thought in my own 
mind that, in time to come, if one of my boys should take a 
fancy to her, I should make no objections, because she was 
always a good, modest-behaved girl; and, I'm sure, would make 

379 



BELINDA 

a good wife, though too delicate for hard country work ; but, 
as it pleases God to send you, madam, and the good gentle- 
man, to take the charge of her off my hands, I am content it 
should be so, and I will sell everything here for her honestly, 
and bring it to you, madam, for poor Rachel.' 

There was nothing that Rachel was anxious to carry away 
with her but a little bullfinch, of which she was very fond. 
One, and but one, circumstance about Rachel stopped the 
current of Clarence Hervey's imagination, and this, con- 
sequently, was excessively disagreeable to him — her name : 
the name of Rachel he could not endure, and he thought it so 
unsuited to her, that he could scarcely believe it belonged to 
her. He consequently resolved to change it as soon as 
possible. The first time that he beheld her, he was struck 
with the idea that she resembled the description of Virginia 
in M. de St. Pierre's celebrated romance ; and by this name 
he always called her, from the hour that she quitted her 
cottage. 

Mrs. Ormond, the lady whom he had engaged to take care 
of his Virginia, was a widow, the mother of a gentleman who 
had been his tutor at college. Her son died, and left her in 
such narrow circumstances, that she was obliged to apply to 
her friends for pecuniary assistance. 

Mr. Hervey had been liberal in his contributions ; from his 
childhood he had known her worth, and her attachment to him 
was blended with the most profound respect. She was not a 
woman of superior abilities, or of much information ; but her 
excellent temper and gentle disposition won affection, though 
she had not any talents to excite admiration. Mr. Hervey had 
perfect confidence in her integrity ; he believed that she would 
exactly comply with his directions, and he thought that her 
want of literature and ingenuity could easily be supplied by his 
own care and instructions. He took a house for her and his 
fair pupil at Windsor, and he exacted a solemn promise that 
she would neither receive nor pay any visits. Virginia was 
thus secluded from all intercourse with the world : she saw no 
one but Mrs. Ormond, Clarence Hervey, and Mr. Moreton, an 
elderly clergyman, whom Mr. Hervey engaged to attend every 
Sunday to read prayers for them at home. Virginia never 
expressed the slightest curiosity to see any other persons, or 
anything beyond the walls of the garden that belonged to the 

380 



VIRGINIA 

house in which she lived ; her present retirement was not 
greater than that to which she had long been accustomed, and 
consequently she did not feel her seclusion from the world as 
any restraint ; with the circumstances that were altered in her 
situation she seemed neither to be dazzled nor charmed ; the 
objects of convenience or luxury that were new to her she 
looked upon with indifference ; but with anything that reminded 
her of her former way of life, and of her grandmother's cottage, 
she was delighted. 

One day Mr. Hervey asked her, whether she should like 
better to return to that cottage, or to remain where she was ? 
He trembled for her answer. She innocently replied, * I 
should like best to go back to the cottage, if you would go with 
me — but I would rather stay here with you than live there 
without you.' 

Clarence was touched and flattered by this artless answer, 
and for some time he discovered every day fresh indications, 
as he thought, of virtue and abilities in his charming pupil. 
Her indifference to objects of show and ornament appeared to 
him an indisputable proof of her magnanimity, and of the 
superiority of her unprejudiced mind. What a difference, 
thought he, between this child of nature and the frivolous, 
sophisticated slaves of art ! 

To try and prove the simplicity of her taste, and the purity 
of her mind, he once presented to her a pair of diamond 
earrings and a moss rosebud, and asked her to take whichever 
she liked best. She eagerly snatched the rose, crying, * Oh ! 
it puts me in mind of the cottage : — how sweet it smells ! ' 

She placed it in her bosom, and then, looking at the 
diamonds, said, * They are pretty, sparkling things — what are 
they ? of what use are they ? ' and she looked with more 
curiosity and admiration at the manner in which the earring 
shut and opened than at the diamonds. Clarence was charmed 
with her. When Mrs. Ormond told her that these things were 
to hang in her ears, she laughed and said, * How ! how can I 
make them hang ? ' 

* Have you never observed that I wear earrings ? ' said Mrs. 
Ormond. 

*Ay! but yours are not like these, and — let me look — I 
never saw how you fastened them — let me look — oh ! you have 
holes in your ears ; but I have none in mine.' 

381 



c 






i ' c • 






BELINDA 






Mrs. Ormond told her that holes could easily be made in 
her ears, by running a steel pin through them. She shrunk 
back, defending her ear with one hand, and pushing the 
diamonds from her with the other, exclaiming, *Oh no, no ! — 
unless,' added she, changing her tone, and turning to Clarence, 
* unless you wish it : — if you bid me, I will.* 

Clarence was scarcely master of himself at this instant ; 
and it was with the utmost difficulty that he could reply to 
her with that dispassionate calmness which became his 
situation and hers. And yet there was more of ignorance 
and timidity, perhaps, than of sound sense or philosophy in 
Virginia's indifference to diamonds ; she did not consider 
them as ornaments that would confer distinction upon their 
possessor, because she was ignorant of the value affixed to 
them by society. Isolated in the world, she had no excite- 
ments to the love of finery, no competition, no means of 
comparison, or opportunities of display ; diamonds were 
consequently as useless to her as guineas were to Robinson 
Crusoe on his desert island. It could not justly be said that 
he was free from avarice, because he set no value on the gold ; 
or that she was free from vanity, because she rejected the 
diamonds. These reflections could not possibly have escaped 
a man of Clarence Hervey's abilities, had he not been engaged 
in defence of a favourite system of education, or if his pupil 
had not been quite so handsome. Virginia's absolute ignorance 
of the world frequently gave an air of originality to her most 
trivial observations, which made her appear at once interesting 
and entertaining. All her ideas of happiness were confined to 
the life she had led during her childhood ; and as she had 
accidentally lived in a beautiful situation in the New Forest, 
she appeared to have an instinctive taste for the beauties of 
nature, and for what we call the picturesque. This taste Mr. 
Hervey perceived, whenever he showed her prints and draw- 
ings, and it was a fresh source of delight and self-complacency 
to him. All that was amiable or estimable in Virginia had a 
double charm, from the secret sense of his penetration, in 
having discovered and appreciated the treasure. The affec- 
tions of this innocent girl had no object but himself and Mrs. 
Ormond, and they were strong, perhaps, in proportion as they 
were concentrated. The artless familiarity of her manner, and 
her unsuspicious confidence, amounting almost to credulity, 

382 



VIRGINIA 

had irresistible power over Mr. Herve/s mind ; he felt them 
as appeals at once to his tenderness and his generosity. He 
treated her with the utmost delicacy, and his oath was never 
absent from his mind : but he felt proudly convinced, that if 
he had not been bound by any such solemn engagement, no 
temptation could have made him deceive and betray confiding 
innocence. 

Conscious that his views were honourable, anticipating the 
generous pleasure he should have in showing his superiority to 
all mercenary considerations and worldly prejudices, in the 
choice of a wife, he indulged^ with a species of pride, his 
increasing attachment to Virginia ; but he was not sensible of 
the rapid progress of the passion, till he was suddenly awakened 
by a few simple observations of Mrs. Ormond. 

* This is Virginians birthday — she tells me she is seventeen 
to-day.* 

* Seventeen ! — is she only seventeen ? * cried Clarence, with 
a mixture of surprise and disappointment in his coimtenance — 
* Only seventeen ! Why she is but a child still.' 

' Quite a child,' said Mrs. Ormond; 'and so much the better.' 

* So much the worse, I think,' said Clarence. * But are you 
sure she's only seventeen ? — she must be mistaken — she must 
be eighteen, at least' 

* God forbid ! ' 

* God forbid I — Why, Mrs. Ormond ? ' 

* Because, you know, we have a year more before us. 

* That may be a very satisfactory prospect to you,' said Mr. 
Hervey, smiling. 

* And to you, surely,' said Mrs. Ormond ; * for, I suppose, 
you would be glad that your wife should, at least, know the 
conmion things that everybody knows.' 

* As to that,' said Clarence, * I should be glad that my wife 
were ignorant of what everybody knows. Nothing is so tire- 
some to a man of any taste or abilities as what everybody 
knows, I am rather desirous to have a wife who has an 
unconunon than a common understanding.' 

* But you would choose, would not you,' said Mrs. Ormond, 
hesitating with an air of great deference, < that your wife should 
know how to write ? ' 

* To be sure,' replied Clarence, colouring. * Does not 
Virginia know how to write ? ' 

383 



BELINDA 

* How should she ? ' said Mrs. Ormond : * it is no fault of 
hers, poor girl — she was never taught. You know it was her 
grandmother's notion that she should not learn to write, lest 
she should write love-letters.' 

< But you promised that she should be taught to write, and 
I trusted to you, Mrs. Ormond.* 

' She has been here only two months, and all that time, I 
am sure, I have done everything in my power ; but when a 
person comes to be sixteen or seventeen, it is uphill work.' 

* I will teach her myself,' cried Clarence : * I am sure she 
may be taught anything.' 

* By you,' said Mrs. Ormond, smiling ; * but not by me.' 

* You have no doubts of her capacity, surely ? ' 

* I am no judge of capacity, especially of the capacity of 
those I love ; and I am grown very fond of Virginia ; she is a 
charming, open-hearted, simple, affectionate creature. I rather 
think it is from indolence that she does not learn, and not 
from want of abilities.' 

*A11 indolence arises from want of excitement,' said 
Clarence : * if she had proper motives, she would conquer 
her indolence.' 

* Why, I daresay, if I were to tell her that she would never 
have a letter from Mr. Hervey till she is able to write an 
answer, she would learn to write very expeditiously; but I 
thought that would not be a proper motive, because you 
forbade me to tell her your future views. And indeed it 
would be highly imprudent, on your account, as well as hers, 
to give her any hint of that kind : because you might change 
your mind, before she's old enough for you to think of her 
seriously, and then you would not know what to do with her ; 
and after entertaining hopes of becoming your wife, she would 
be miserable, I am sure, with that affectionate tender heart of 
hers, if you were to leave her. Now that she knows nothing 
of the matter, we are all safe, and as we should be.' 

Though Clarence Hervey did not at this time foresee any 
great probability of his changing his mind, yet he felt the good 
sense and justice of Mrs. Ormond's suggestions ; and he was 
alarmed to perceive that his mind had been so intoxicated as 
to suffer such obvious reflections to escape his attention. Mrs. 
Ormond, a woman whom he had been accustomed to consider 
as far his inferior in capacity, he now felt was superior to him 

384 



VIRGINIA 

in prudence, merely because she was undisturbed by passion. 
He resolved to master his own mind : to consider that it 
was not a mistress, but a wife he wanted in Virginia ; that a 
wife without capacity or without literature could never be a 
companion suited to him, let her beauty or sensibility be ever 
so exquisite and captivating. The happiness of his life and 
of hers were at stake, and every motive of prudence and 
delicacy called upon him to command his affections. He was, 
however, still sanguine in his expectations from Virginia's 
understanding, and from his own power of developing her 
capacity. He made several attempts, with the greatest skill 
and patience ; and his fair pupil, though she did not by any 
means equal his hopes, astonished Mrs. Ormond by her 
comparatively rapid progress. 

* I always believed that you could make her anything you 
pleased,' said she. * You are a tutor who can work miracles 
with Virginia.' 

* I see no miracles,' replied Clarence ; * I am conscious of 
no such power. I should be sorry to possess any such 
influence, until I am sure that it would be for our mutual 
happiness.' 

Mr. Hervey then conjured Mrs. Ormond, by all her attach- 
ment to him and to her pupil, never to give Virginia the most 
distant idea that he had any intentions of making her his wife. 
She promised to do all that was in her power to keep this 
secret, but she could not help observing that it had already 
been betrayed, as plainly as looks could speak, by Mr. Hervey 
himself. Clarence in vain endeavoured to exculpate himself 
from this charge : Mrs. Ormond brought to his recollection so 
many instances of his indiscretion, that it was substantiated 
even in his own judgment, and he was amazed to And that all 
the time he had put so much constraint upon his inclinations, 
he had, nevertheless, so obviously betrayed them. His 
surprise, however, was at this time unmixed with any painful 
regret ; he did not foresee the probability that he should change 
his mind; and notwithstanding Mrs. Ormond assured him 
that Virginia's sensibility had increased, he was persuaded 
that she was mistaken, and that his pupil's heart and imagina- 
tion were yet untouched. The innocent openness with which 
she expressed her affection for him confirmed him, he said, in 
his opinion. To do him justice, Clarence had none of the 
2 C 385 



BELINDA 

presumption which too often characterises men who have been 
successful, as it is called, with the fair sex. His acquaintance 
with women had increased his persuasion that it is difficult to 
excite genuine love in the heart ; and with respect to himself, 
he was upon this subject astonishingly incredulous. It was 
scarcely possible to convince him that he was beloved. 

Mrs. Ormond, piqued upon this subject, determined to 
ascertain more decisively her pupil's sentiments. 

* My dear,' said she, one day to Virginia, who was feeding 
her bullfinch, * I do believe you are fonder of that bird than of 
anything in the world — ^fonder of it, I am sure, than of me.' 

* Oh ! you cannot think so,' said Virginia, with an affec- 
tionate smile. 

* Well ! fonder than you are of Mr. Hervey you will allow, 
at least ? ' 

* No, indeed 1 ' cried she eagerly : * how can you think me 
so foolish, so childish, so ungrateful, as to prefer a little worth- 
less bird to him ^ (the bullfinch began to sing so loud at 

this instant that her enthusiastic speech was stopped). * My 
pretty bird,' said she, as it perched upon her hand, * I love you 
very much, but if Mr. Hervey were to ask it, to wish it, I would 
open that window and let you fly ; yes, and bid you fly away 
far from me for ever. Perhaps he does wish it ? — Does he ? — 
Did he tell you so ? ' cried she, looking earnestly in Mrs. Or- 
mond's face, as she moved towards the window. 

Mrs. Ormond put her hand upon the sash, as Virginia was 
going to throw it up 

'Gently, gently, my love — whither is your imagination 
carrying you ? ' 

* I thought something by your look,' said Virginia, blushing. 
*And I thought something^ my dear Virginia,' said Mrs. 

Ormond, smiling. 

* What did you think ? — What could you think ? ' 

* I cannot — I mean, I would rather not at present tell you. 
But do not look so grave ; I will tell you some time or other, 
if you cannot guess.' 

Virginia was silent, and stood abashed. 

* I am sure, my sweet girl,' said Mrs. Ormond, * I do not 
mean, by anything I said, to confuse or blame you. It is very 
natural that you should be grateful to Mr. Hervey, and that 
you should admire, and, to a certain degreey love him.' 

386 



VIRGINIA 

Virginia looked up delighted, yet with some hesitation in 
her manner. 

* He is, indeed,' said Mrs. Ormond, *one of the first of himian 
beings : such even / have always thought him ; and I am sure 
I like you the better, my dear, for your sensibility,' said she, 
kissing Virginia as she spoke ; * only we must take care of it, 
or this tenderness might go too far.* 

* How so ? * said Virginia, returning her caresses with fond- 
ness : * can I love you and Mr. Hervey too much ? ' 

* Not me.' 

* Nor him, Pm sure — he is so good — so very good 1 I am 
afraid that I do not love him enough^ said she, sighing. *■ I 
love him enough when he is absent, but not when he is present. 
When he is near I feel a sort of fear mixed with my love. I 
wish to please him very much, but I should not quite like that 
he should show his love for me as you do — as you did just 
now.' 

* My dear, it would not be proper that he should ; you are 
quite right not to wish it,' 

< Am I ? I was afraid that it was a sign of my not liking him 
as much as I ought.' 

* Ah, my poor child, you love him full as much as you 
ought.' 

* Do you think so ? I am glad of it,' said Virginia, with a 
look of such confiding simplicity, that her friend was touched 
to the heart. 

* I do think so, my love,' said Mrs. Ormond ; * and I hope 
I shall never be sorry for it, nor you either. But it is not 
proper that we should say any more upon this subject now. 
Where are your drawings ? Where is your writing ? My dear, 
we must get forward with these things as fast as we can. 
That is the way to please Mr. Hervey, I can tell you.' 

Confirmed by this conversation in her own opinion, Mrs. 
Ormond was satisfied. From delicacy to her pupil, she did 
not repeat all that had passed to Mr. Hervey, resolving to wait 
till the proper moment. * She is too young and too childish 
for him to think of marrying her yet, for a year or two,' thought 
she ; * and it is better to repress her sensibility till her educa- 
tion is more finished ; by that time Mr. Hervey will find out 
his mistake.' 

In the meantime she could not help thinking that he was 

387 



BELINDA 

blind, for he continued steady in his belief of Virginia's 
indifference. 

To dissipate his own mind, and to give time for the develop- 
ment of hers, he now, according to his resolution, left his pupil 
to the care of Mrs. Ormond, and mixed as much as possible 
in gay and fashionable company. It was at this period that 
he renewed his acquaintance with Lady Delacour, whom he 
had seen and admired before he went abroad. He found that 
his gallantry, on the famous day of the battle between the 
turkeys and pigs, was still remembered with gratitude by her 
ladyship ; she received him with marked courtesy, and he soon 
became a constant visitor at her house. Her wit entertained, 
her eloquence charmed him, and he followed, admired, and 
gallanted her, without scruple, for he considered her merely as 
a coquette, who preferred the glory of conquest to the security 
of reputation. With such a woman he thought he could amuse 
himself without danger, and he everywhere appeared the fore- 
most in the public train of her ladyship's admirers. He soon 
discovered, however, that her talents were far superior to what 
are necessary for playing the part of a fine lady ; his visits 
became more and more agreeable to him, and he was glad to 
feel, that, by dividing his attention, his passion for Virginia 
insensibly diminished, or, as he said to himself, became more 
reasonable. In conversing with Lady Delacour, his faculties 
were always, called into full play; in talking to Virginia, his 
understanding was passive : he perceived that a large propor- 
tion of his intellectual powers, and of his knowledge, was abso- 
lutely useless to him in her company ; and this did not raise 
her either in his love or esteem. Her simplicity and natveUy 
however, sometimes relieved him, after he had been fatigued by 
the extravagant gaiety smd glare of her ladyship's manners ; and 
he reflected that the coquetry which amused him in an acquaint- 
ance would be odious in a wife : the perfect innocence of 
Virginia promised security to his domestic happiness, and he 
did not change his views, though he was less eager for the 
period of their accomplishment. * I cannot expect everything 
that is desirable,' said he to himself : * a more brilliant char- 
acter than Virginia's would excite my admiration, but could not 
command my confidence.' 

It was whilst his mind was in this situation that he became 
acquainted with Belinda. At first, the idea of her having been 

388 



VIRGINIA 

educated by the match-making Mrs. Stanhope prejudiced him 
against her ; but as he had opportunities of observing her con- 
duct, this prepossession was conquered, and when she had 
secured his esteem, he could no longer resist her power over his 
heart. In comparison with Belinda, Virginia appeared to him 
but an insipid, though innocent child : the one he found was 
his equal, the other his inferior ; the one he saw could be a 
companion, a friend to him for life ; the other would merely be 
his pupil, or his plaything. Belinda had cultivated taste, an 
active understanding, a knowledge of literature, the power and 
the habit of conducting herself ; Virginia was ignorant and in- 
dolent, she had few ideas, and no wish to extend her knowledge ; 
she was so entirely unacquainted with the world, that it was 
absolutely impossible she could conduct herself with that dis- 
cretion, which must be the combined result of reasoning and 
experience. Mr. Hervey had felt gratuitous confidence in 
Virginia's innocence ; but on Belinda's prudence, which he had 
opportunities of seeing tried, he gradually learned to feel a 
different and a higher species of reliance, which it is neither in 
our power to bestow nor to refuse. The virtues of Virginia 
sprang from sentiment : those of Belinda from reason. 

Clarence, whilst he made all these comparisons, became every 
day more wisely And more fondly attached to Belinda ; and at 
length he became desirous to change the nature of his connec- 
tion with Virginia, and to appear to her only in the light of a 
friend or a benefactor. He thought of giving her a suitable 
fortune and of leaving her under the care of Mrs. Ormond, till 
some method of establishing her in the world should occur. 
Unfortunately, just at the time when Mr. Hervey formed this 
plan, and before it was conmiunicated to Mrs. Ormond, diffi- 
culties arose which prevented him from putting it into execu- 
tion. 

Whilst he had been engaged in the gay world at Lady 
Delacour's, his pupil had necessarily been left much to the 
management of Mrs. Ormond. This lady, with the best 
possible intentions, had not that reach of mind and variety of 
resource necessary to direct the exquisite sensibility and ardent 
imagination of Virginia : the solitude in which she lived added 
to the difficulty of the task. Without companions to interest 
her social affections, without real objects to occupy her senses 
and understanding, Virginia's mind was either perfectly in- 

389 



BELINDA 

dolent, or exalted by romantic views, and visionary ideas of 
happiness. As she had never seen anything of society, all 
her notions were drawn from books ; the severe restrictions 
which her grandmother had early laid upon the choice of these 
seemed to have awakened her curiosity, and to have increased 
her appetite for books — it was insatiable. Reading, indeed, 
was now almost her only pleasure ; for Mrs. Ormond's con- 
versation was seldom entertaining, and Virginia had no longer 
those occupations which filled a portion of her day at the cottage. 

Mr. Hervey had cautioned Mrs. Ormond against putting 
common novels into her hands, but he made no objection to 
romances : these, he thought, breathed a spirit favourable to 
female virtue, exalted the respect for chastity, and inspired en- 
thusiastic admiration of honour, generosity, truth, and all the 
noble qualities which dignify human nature. Virginia devoured 
these romances with the greatest eagerness ; and Mrs. Ormond, 
who found her a prey to ennui when her fancy was not amused, 
indulged her taste ; yet she strongly suspected that they con- 
tributed to increase her passion for the only man who could, in 
her imagination, represent a hero. 

One night Virginia found, in Mrs. Ormond's room, a volume 
of St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia, She knew that her own 
name had been taken from this romance ; Mr. Hervey had her 
picture painted in this character; and these circumstances 
strongly excited her curiosity to read the book. Mrs. Ormond 
could not refuse to let her have it ; for, though it was not an 
ancient romance, it did not exactly come under the description 
of a common novel, and Mr. Hervey was not at hand to give 
his advice. Virginia sat down instantly to her volume, and 
never stirred from the spot till she had nearly finished it. 

* What is it that strikes your fancy so much ? What are 
you considering so deeply, my love?' said Mrs. Ormond, 
observing that she seemed lost in thought. * Let us see, my 
dear,' -continued she, offering to take the book, which hung 
from her hand. Virginia started from her reverie, but held the 
volume fast. — *Will not you let me read along with you?' 
said Mrs. Ormond. * Won't you let me share your pleasure ? ' 

* It was not pleasure that I felt, I believe,' said Virginia. 
* I would rather you should not see just that particular part 
that I was reading ; and yet, if you desire it,' added she, 
resigning the book reluctantly. 

390 



VIRGINIA 

* What can make you so much afraid of me, my sweet girl ? ' 

* I am not afraid of you — but — of myself,' said Virginia, 
sighing. 

Mrs. Ormond read the following passage : 

* She thought of Paul's friendship, more pure than the waters 
of the fountain, stronger than the united palms, and sweeter 
than the perfume of flowers ; and these images, in night and 
in solitude, gave double force to the passion which she 
nourished in her heart. She suddenly left the dangerous 
shades, and went to her mother, to seek protection against 
herself. She wished to reveal her distress to her ; she pressed 
her hands, and the name of Paul was on her lips ; but the 
oppression of her heart took away all utterance, and, laying 
her head upon her mother's bosom, she only wept.' 

* And am I not a mother to you, my beloved Virginia ? ' 
said Mrs. Ormond. * Though I cannot express my affection 
in such charming language as this, yet, believe me, no mother 
was ever fonder of a child.' 

Virginia threw her arms round Mrs. Ormond, and laid her 
head upon her friend's bosom, as if she wished to realise the 
illusion, and to be the Virginia of whom she had been reading. 

* I know all you think, and all you feel : I know,' whispered 
Mrs. Ormond, * the name that is on your lips.' 

*No, indeed, you do not; you cannot,' cried Virginia, 
suddenly raising her head, and looking up in Mrs. Ormond's 
face, with surprise and timidity : * how could you possibly 
know all my thoughts and feelings ? I never told them to you ; 
for, indeed, I have only confused ideas floating in my imagina- 
tion from the books I have been reading. I do not distinctly 
know my own feelings.' 

*This is all very natural, and a proof of your perfect 
innocence and simplicity, my child. But why did the passage 
you were reading just now strike you so much ? ' 

* I was only considering,' said Virginia, * whether it was the 
description of — love.' 

* And your heart told you that it was ? ' 

* I don't know,' said she, sighing. * But of this I am 
certain, that I had not the name, which you were thinking of, 
upon my lips.' 

391 



BELINDA 

Ah ! thought Mrs. Ormond, she has not forgotten how 
I checked her sensibility some time ago. Poor girl ! she is 
become afraid of me, and I have taught her to dissemble ; 
but she betrays herself every moment 

* My dear,' said Mrs. Ormond, * you need not fear me — I 
cannot blame you : in your situation, it is impossible that you 
could help loving Mr. Hervey.' 

*Isit?* 

* Yes ; quite impossible. So do not blame yourself for it.' 

* No, I do not blame myself for that. I only blame myself 
for not loving him enough^ as I told you once before.' 

* Yes, my dear ; and the oftener you tell me so, the more I 
am convinced of your affection. It is one of the strongest 
symptoms of love, that we are unconscious of its extent. We 
fancy that we can never do too much for the beloved object.' 

* That is exactly what I feel about Mr. Hervey.' 

* That we can never love him enough.* 

* Ah ! that is precisely what I feel for Mr. Hervey. 

'And what you ought — I mean, what it is natural you 
should feel ; and what he will himself, I hope, indeed I dare 
say, some time or other wish, and be glad that you should 
feel' 

* Some time or other ! Does not he wish it now ? ' 

* I — he — my dear, what a question is that } And how shall 
I answer it ? We must judge of what he feels by what he ex- 
presses : when he expresses love for you, it will then be the 
time to show yours for him.' 

* He has always expressed love for me, I think,' said 
Virginia — 'always, till lately,' continued she; *but lately he 
has been away so much, and when he comes home, he does 
not look so well pleased ; so that I was afraid he was angry 
with me, and that he thought me ungrateful.' 

* Oh, my love, do not torment yourself with these vain fears ! 
And yet I know that you cannot help it' 

* Since you are so kind, so very kind to me,' said Virginia, 
* I will tell you all my fears and doubts. But it is late — ^there ! 
the clock struck one. I will not keep you up.' 

* I am not at all sleepy,' said the indulgent Mrs, Ormond. 

* Nor I,' said Virginia. 

* Now, then,' said Mrs. Ormond, * for these doubts and 
fears.' 

392 



VIRGINIA 

' I was afraid that, perhaps, Mr. Hervey would be angry 
if he knew that I thought of anything in the world but 
him.' 

'Of what else do you think? — Of nothing else from 
morning till night, that I can see.' 

* Ah, then you do not see into my mind. In the daytime 
I often think of those heroes, those charming heroes, that I 
read of in the books you have given me.' 

* To be sure you do.' 

* And is not that wrong ? Would not Mr. Hervey be dis- 
pleased if he knew it ? ' 

*Why should he?' 

' Because they are not quite like him. I love some of them 
better than I do him, and he might think that ungratefuV 

How naturally love inspires the idea of jealousy, thought 
Mrs. Ormond. * My dear,' said she, * you carry your ideas of 
delicacy and gratitude to an extreme ; but it is very natural 
you should : however, you need not be afraid ; Mr. Hervey 
cannot be jealous of those charming heroes, that never existed, 
though they are not quite like him.' 

* I am very glad that he would not think me ungrateful — 
but if he knew that I dream of them sometimes ? ' 

* He would think you dreamed, as all people do, of what 
they think of in the daytime.' 

* And he would not be angry ? I am very glad of it. But 
I once saw a picture ' 

* I know you did — well,' said Mrs. Ormond, * and your 
grandmother was frightened because it was the picture of a 
man — hey? If she was not your grandmother, I should say 
that she was a simpleton. I assure you, Mr. Hervey is not 
like her, if that is what you mean to ask. He would not be 
angry at your having seen fifty pictures.' 

* I am glad of it — but I see it very often in my dreams.' 
*Well, if you had seen more pictures, you would not see 

this so often. It was the first you ever saw, and very naturally 
you remember it. Mr. Hervey would not be angry at that, 
said Mrs. Ormond, laughing. 

* But sometimes, in my dreams, it speaks to me.' 

* And what does it say ! ' 

* The same sort of things that those heroes I read of say to 
their mistresses.' 

393 



BELINDA 

* And do you never, in your dreams, hear Mr. Hervey say 
this sort of things ? ' 

*No.' 

* And do you never see Mr. Hervey in these dreams ?* 

* Sometimes ; but he does not speak to me ; he does not 
look at me with the same sort of tenderness, and he does not 
throw himself at my feet.' 

* No ; because he has never done all this in reality.' 

* No ; and I wonder how I come to dream of such things.' 

* So do I ; but you have read and thought of them, it is 
plain. Now go to sleep, there's my good girl ; that is the best 
thing you can do at present — ^go to sleep.' 

It was not long after this conversation that Sir Philip 
Baddely and Mr. Rochfort scaled the garden wall, to obtain a 
sight of Clarence Hervey's mistress. Virginia was astonished, 
terrified, and disgusted, by their appearance ; they seemed to 
her a species of animals for which she had no name, and of 
which she had no prototype in her imagination. That they 
were men she saw ; but they were clearly not Clarence Herveys : 
they bore still less resemblance to the courteous knights of 
chivalry. Their language was so different from any of the 
books she had read, and any of the conversations she had 
heard, that they were scarcely intelligible. After they had 
forced themselves into her presence, they did not scruple to 
address her in the most unceremonious manner. Amongst 
other rude things, they said, * Damme, my pretty dear, you 
cannot love the man that keeps you prisoner in this manner, 
hey? Damme, you'd better come and live with one of us. 
You can't love this tyrant of a fellow.' 

* He is not a tyrant — I do love him as much as I detest 
you,' cried Virginia, shrinking from him with looks of horror. 

* Danmie ! good actress ! Put her on the stage when he is 
tired of her. So you won't come with us ? — Good-bye, till we 
see you again. You're right, my girl, to be upon your good 
behaviour ; maybe you may get him to marry you, child ! ' 

Virginia, upon hearing this speech, turned from the man 
who insulted her with a degree of haughty indignation, of 
which her gentle nature had never before appeared capable. 

Mrs. Ormond hoped that, after the alarm was over, the cir- 
cumstance would pass away from her pupil's mind ; but on the 
contrary, it left the most forcible impression. Virginia became 

394 



VIRGINIA 

silent and melancholy, and whole hours were spent in reverie. 
Mrs. Ormond imagined, that notwithstanding Virginia's entire 
ignorance of the world, she had acquired from books sufficient 
knowledge to be alarmed at the idea of being taken for 
Clarence Hervey's mistress. She touched upon this subject 
with much delicacy, and the answers that she received con- 
firmed her opinion. Virginia had been inspired by romances 
with the most exalted notions of female delicacy and honour ! 
but from her perfect ignorance, these were rather vag^e ideas 
than principles of conduct. 

* We shall see Mr. Hervey to-morrow ; he has written me 
word that he will come from town, and spend the day with us.' 

< I shall be ashamed to see him after what has passed,' said 
Virginia. 

* You have no cause for shame, my dear ; Mr, Hervey will 
try to discover the persons who insulted you, and he will punish 
them. They will never return here ; you need not fear that. 
He is willing and able to protect you.' 

< Yes, of that I am sure. But what did that strange man 
mean, when he said ' 

* What, my dear ? ' 

* That perhaps Mr. Hervey would marry me.' 

Virginia pronounced these words with difficulty. Mrs. 
Ormond was silent, for she was much embarrassed. Virginia 
having conquered her first difficulty, seemed resolute to obtain 
an answer. 

* You do not speak to me ! Will you not tell me, dear 
Mrs. Ormond,' said she, hanging upon her fondly, * what did 
he mean ? ' 

* What he said, I suppose.' 

*But he said, that if I behaved well, I might get Mr. 
Hervey to marry me. What did he mean by that?' said 
Virginia, in an accent of offended pride. 

* He spoke very rudely and improperly ; but it is not worth 
while to think of what he said, or what he meant.' 

* But, dear Mrs. Ormond, do not go away from me now : I 
never so much wished to speak to you in my whole life, and 
you turn away from me.' 

* Well, my love, well, what would you say ? ' 

* Tell me one thing, only one thing, and you will set my 
heart at ease. Does Mr. Hervey wish me to be his wife ? ' 

395 



BELINDA 

* I cannot tell you that, my dearest Virginia. Time will 
show us. Perhaps his heart has not yet decided.' 

* I wish it would decide,' said Virginia, sighing deeply ; 
< and I wish that strange man had not told me anything about 
the matter ; it has made me very unhappy.' 

She covered her eyes with her hand, but the tears trickled 
between her fingers, and rolled fast down her arm. Mrs. 
Ormond, quite overcome by the sight of her distress, was no 
longer able to keep the secret with which she had been en- 
trusted by Clarence Hervey. And after all, thought she, 
Virginia will hear it from himself soon. I shall only spare her 
some unnecessary pain ; it is cruel to see her thus, and to keep 
her in suspense. Besides, her weakness might be her ruin, in 
his opinion, if it were to extinguish all her energy, and deprive 
her of the very power of pleasing. How wan she looks, and 
how heavy are those sleepless eyes ! She is not, indeed, in a 
condition to meet him, when he comes to us to-morrow : if she 
had some hopes, she would revive and appear with her natural 
ease and grace. 

* My sweet child,' said Mrs. Ormond, * I cannot bear to see 
you so melancholy ; consider, Mr. Hervey will be with us to- 
morrow, and it will give him a great deal of pain to see you 
so.' 

* Will it ? Then I will try to be very gay.' 

Mrs. Ormond was so delighted to see Virginia smile, that 
she could not forbear adding, * The strange man was not wrong 
in everything he said ; you willy one of these days, be Mr. 
Hervey's wife.' 

* That, I am sure,' said Virginia, bursting again into tears, 
* that, I am sure, I do not wish unless he does.' 

* He does, he does, my dear — do not let this delicacy of 
yours, which has been wound up too high, make you miserable. 
He thought of you, he loved you long and long ago.' 

* He is very good, too good,' said Virginia, sobbing. 

* Nay what is more — ^for I can keep nothing from you — he 
has been educating you all this time on purpose for his wife, 
and he only waits till your education is finished, and till he is 
sure that you feel no repugnance for him.' 

* I should be very ungrateful if I felt any repugnance for 
him,' said Virginia ; * I feel none.' 

* Oh, that you need not assure me,' said Mrs. Ormond. 

396 



VIRGINIA 

* But I do not wish to marry him — I do not wish to marry.* 

* You are a modest girl to say so ; and this modesty will 
make you ten times more amiable, especially in Mr. Hervey's 
eyes. Heaven forbid that I should lessen it ! ' 

The next morning Virginia, who always slept in the same 
room with Mrs. Ormond, wakened her, by crying out in her 
sleep, with a voice of terror, * Oh, save him ! — save Mr. Hervey 1 
— Mr. Hervey ! — forgive me I forgive me ! * 

Mrs. Ormond drew back the curtain, and saw Virginia lying 
fast asleep ; her beautiful face convulsed with agony. 

* He's dead ! — Mr. Hervey 1 * cried she, in a voice of 
exquisite distress : then starting up, and stretching out her 
arms, she uttered a piercing cry, and awoke. 

* My love, you have been dreaming frightfully,' said Mrs. 
Ormond 

* Is it all a dream ? ' cried Virginia, looking round fearfully. 
< All a dream, my dear ! ' said Mrs. Ormond, taking her 

hand. 

* I am very, very glad of it ! — Let me breathe. It was, in- 
deed, a frightful dream ! ' 

* Your hand still trembles,' said Mrs. Ormond ; * let me put 
back this hair from your poor face, and you will grow cool, and 
forget this foolish dream.' 

* No ; I must tell it you. I ought to tell it you. But it was 
all so confused, I can recollect only some parts of it. First, I 
remember that I thought I was not myself, but the Virginia 
that we were reading of the other night ; and I was somewhere 
in the Isle of France. I thought the place was something like 
the forest where my grandmother's cottage used to be, only 
there were high mountains and rocks, and cocoa-trees, and 
plantains.' 

* Such as you saw in the prints of that book ? ' 

* Yes ; only beautiful, beautiful beyond description ! And 
it was moonlight, brighter and clearer than any moonlight I 
ever before had seen : and the air was fresh yet perfumed ; and 
I was seated under the shade of a plane-tree, beside Virginia's 
fountain.' 

* Just as you are in your picture ? ' 

* Yes : but Paul was seated beside me.' 

* Paul ! ' said Mrs. Ormond, smiling : * that is Mr. Hervey.' 

* No ; not Mr. Hervey's face, though it spoke with his voice 

397 



BELINDA 

— this is what I thought that I must tell you. It was another 
figure : it seemed a real living person : it knelt at my feet, and 
spoke to me so kindly, so tenderly ; and just as it was going 
to kiss my hand, Mr. Hervey appeared, and I started terribly, 
for I was afraid he would be displeased, and that he would 
think me ungrateful; and he was displeased, and he called me 
ungrateful Virginia, and frowned, and then I gave him my 
hand, and then everything changed, I do not know how 
suddenly, and I was in a place like the great print of the 
cathedral, which Mr. Hervey showed me ; and there were 
crowds of people — I was almost stifled. You pulled me on, 
as I remember; and Mr. Moreton was there, standing upon 
some steps by what you called the altar ; and then we knelt 
down before him, and Mr. Hervey was putting a ring on my 
finger ; but there came suddenly from the crowd that strange 
man, who was here the other day, and he dragged me along 
with him, I don't know how or where, swiftly down precipices, 
whilst I struggled, and at last fell. Then all changed again, 
and I was in a magnificent field, covered with cloth of gold, 
and there were beautiful ladies seated under canopies ; and I 
thought it was a tournament, such as I have read of, only more 
splendid; and two knights, clad in complete armour, and 
mounted on fiery steeds, were engaged in single combat ; and 
they fought furiously, and I thought they were fighting for me. 
One of the knights wore black plumes in his helmet, and the 
other white ; and, as he was passing by me, the vizor of the 
knight of the white plumes was raised, and I saw it was ' 

* Clarence Hervey ? ' said Mrs. Ormond. 

* No ; still the same figure that knelt to me ; and I wished 
him to be victorious. And he was victorious. And he un- 
horsed his adversary, and stood over him with his drawn sword ; 
and then I saw that the knight in the black plumes was Mr. 
Hervey, and I ran to save him, but I could not. I saw him 
weltering in his blood, and I heard him say, " Perfidious, un- 
grateful Virginia ! you are the cause of my death ! " — and I 
screamed, I believe, and that awakened me.* 

* Well, it is only a dream, my love,* said Mrs. Ormond ; 
* Mr. Hervey is safe : get up and dress yourself, and you will 
soon see him.' 

* But was it not wrong and ungrateful to wish that the knight 
in the white plumes should be victorious ? * 

398 



A DISCOVERY 

* Your poor little head is full of nothing but these romances, 
and love for Mr. Hervey. It is your love for him that makes 
you fear that he will be jealous. But he is not so simple as 
you are. He will forgive you for wishing that the knight in 
the white plumes should be victorious, especially as you did 
not know that the other knight was Mr. Hervey. Come, my 
love, dress yourself, and think no more of these foolish dreams, 
and all will go well.' 



CHAPTER XXVII 

A DISCOVERY 

Instead of the open, childish, affectionate familiarity with 
which Virginia used to meet Clarence Hervey, she now received 
him with reserved, timid embarrassment. Struck by this 
change in her manner, and alarmed by the dejection of her 
spirits, which she vainly strove to conceal, he eagerly inquired, 
from Mrs. Ormond, into the cause of this alteration. 

Mrs. Ormond's answers, and her account of all that had 
passed during his absence, increased his anxiety. His in- 
dignation was roused by the insult which Virginia had been 
offered by the strangers who had scaled the garden-wall. All 
his endeavours to discover who they were proved ineffectual ; 
but, lest they should venture to repeat their visit, he removed 
her from Windsor, and took her directly to Twickenham. 
Here he stayed with her and Mrs. Ormond some days, to deter- 
mine, by his own observation, how far the representations that 
had been made to him were just Till this period he had been 
persuaded that Virginia's regard for him was rather that of 
gratitude than of love ; and with this opinion, he thought that 
he had no reason seriously to reproach himself for the imprudence 
with which he had betrayed the partiality that he felt for her in 
the beginning of their acquaintance. He flattered himself that 
even should she have discerned his intentions, her heart would 
not repine at any alteration in his sentiments ; and if her happi- 
ness were uninjured, his reason told him that he was not in 
honour bound to constancy. The case was now altered. Un- 

399 



BELINDA 

willing as he was to believe, he could no longer doubt. Virginia 
could neither meet his eyes nor speak to him without a degree 
of embarrassment which she had not sufficient art to conceal : 
she trembled whenever he came near her, and if he looked 
grave, or forebore to take notice of her, she would burst into 
tears. At other times, contrary to the natural indolence of her 
character, she would exert herself to please him with surprising 
energy : she learned everything that he wished ; her capacity 
seemed suddenly to unfold. For an instant, Clarence flattered 
himself that both her fits of melancholy and of exertion might 
arise from a secret desire to see something of that world from 
which she had been secluded. One day he touched upon this 
subject, to see what effect it would produce ; but, contrary to 
his expectations, she seemed to have no desire to quit her re- 
tirement : she did not wish, she said, for amusements such as 
he described ; she did not wish to go into the world. 

It was during the time of his passion for her that Clarence 
had her picture painted in the character of St. Pierre's 
Virginia. It happened to be in the room in which they were 
now conversing, and when she spoke of loving a life of retire- 
ment, Clarence accidently cast his eyes upon the picture, and 
then upon Virginia. She turned away — sighed deeply; and 
when, in a tone of kindness, he asked her if she were unhappy, 
she hid her face in her hands, and made no answer. 

Mr. Hervey could not be insensible to her distress or to her 
delicacy. He saw her bloom fading daily, her spirits depressed, 
her existence a burden to her, and he feared that his own im- 
prudence had been the cause of all this misery. 

* I have taken her out of a situation in which she might 
have spent her life usefully and happily ; I have excited false 
hopes in her mind, and now she is a wretched and useless being. 
I have won her affections ; her happiness depends totally upon 
me ; and can I forsake her ? Mrs. Ormond says, that she is 
convinced Virginia would not survive the day of my marriage 
with another. I am not disposed to believe that girls often die 
or destroy themselves for love ; nor am I a coxcomb enough 
to suppose that love for me must be extraordinary desperate. 
But here's a girl, who is of a melancholy temperament, who has 
a great deal of natural sensibility, whose affections have all been 
concentrated, who has lived in solitude, whose imagination has 
dwelt, for a length of time, upon a certain set of ideas, who has 

400 



A DISCOVERY 

but one object of hope ; in such a mind, and in such circum- 
stances, passion may rise to a paroxysm of despair.' 

Pity, generosity, and honour, made him resolve not to 
abandon this unfortunate girl ; though he felt that every time 
he saw Virginia, his love for Belinda increased. It was this 
struggle in his mind betwixt love and honour which produced 
all the apparent inconsistency and irresolution that puzzled Lady 
Delacour and perplexed Belinda. The lock of beautiful hair, 
which so unluckily fell at Belinda's feet, was Virginia's ; he was 
going to take it to the painter, who had made the hair in her 
picture considerably too dark. How this picture got into the 
exhibition must now be explained. 

Whilst Mr. Hervey's mind was in that painful state of doubt 
which has just been described, a circumstance happened that 
promised him some relief from his embarrassment. Mr. More- 
ton, the clergyman who used to read prayers every Sunday for 
Mrs. Ormond and Virginia, did not come one Sunday at the 
usual time : the next morning he called on Mr. Hervey, with 
a face that showed he had something of importance to 
communicate. 

* I have hopes, my dear Clarence,' said he, * that I have 
found out your Virginia's father. Yesterday, a musical friend 
of mine persuaded me to go with him to hear the singing at 
the Asylum for children in St. George's Fields. There is a 
girl there who has indeed a charming voice — but that's not to 
the present purpose. After church was over, I happened to be 
one of the last that stayed ; for I am too old to love bustling 
through a crowd. Perhaps, as you are impatient, you think 
that's nothing to the purpose ; and yet it is, as you shall hear. 
When the congregation had almost left the church, 1 observed 
that the children of the Asylum remained in their places, by 
order of one of the governors ; and a middle-aged gentleman 
went round amongst the elder girls, examined their counten- 
ances with care, and inquired with much anxiety their ages, 
and every particular relative to their parents. The stranger 
held a miniature picture in his hand, with which he compared 
each face. I was not near enough to him,' continued Mr. 
Moreton, * to see the miniature distinctly : but from the glimpse 
I caught of it, I thought that it was like your Virginia, though 
it seemed to be the portrait of a child but four or five years old. 
I understand that this gentleman will be at the Asylum again 

2 D 401 



BELINDA 

next Sunday ; I heard him express a wish to see some of the 
girls who happened last Sunday to be absent.' 

* Do you know this gentleman's name, or where he lives ? ' 
said Clarence. 

* I know nothing of him,' replied Mr. Moreton, * except that 
he seems fond of painting ; for he told one of the directors, 
who was looking at his miniature, that it was remarkably well 
painted, and that, in his happier days, he had been something 
of a judge of the art.' 

Impatient to see the stranger, who, he did not doubt, was 
Virginia's father, Clarence Hervey went the next Sunday to the 
Asylum ; but no such gentleman appeared, and all that he 
could learn respecting him was, that he had applied to one of the 
directors of the institution for leave to see and question the 
girls, in hopes of finding amongst them his lost daughter ; that 
in the course of the week, he had seen all those who were not 
at the Church the last Sunday. None of the directors knew 
anything more concerning him ; but the porter remarked that 
he came in a very handsome coach, and one of the girls of the 
Asylum said that he gave her half a guinea, because she was 
a little like his poor Rachel^ who wets deads but that he had 
added, with a sigh, * This cannot be my daughter, for she is 
only thirteen, and my girl, if she be now living, must be nearly 
eighteen.' 

The age, the name, every circumstance confirmed Mr. 
Hervey in the belief that this stranger was the father of Virginia, 
and he was disappointed and provoked by having missed the 
opportunity of seeing or speaking to him. It occurred to 
Clarence that the gentleman might probably visit the Foundling 
Hospital, and thither he immediately went, to make inquiries. 
He was told that a person, such as he described, had been 
there about a month before, and had compared the face of the 
oldest girls with a little picture of a child : that he gave money 
to several of the girls, but that they did not know his name, or 
anything more about him. 

Mr. Hervey now inserted proper advertisements in all the 
papers, but without producing any effect. At last, recollecting 
what Mr. Moreton told him of the stranger's love of pictures, 
he determined to put his portrait of Virginia into the exhibition, 
in hopes that the gentleman might go there and ask some 
questions about it, which might lead to a discovery/ The 

402 



A DISCOVERY 

young artist, who had painted this picture, was under particular 
obligations to Clarence, and he promised that he would faith- 
fully comply with his request, to be at Somerset House 
regularly every morning, as soon as the exhibition opened ; 
that he would stay there till it closed, and watch whether any 
of the spectators were particularly struck with the portrait of 
Virginia. If any person should ask questions respecting the 
picture, he was to let Mr. Hervey know immediately, and to 
give the inquirer his address. 

Now it happened that the very day when Lady Delacour 
and Belinda were at the exhibition, the painter called Clarence 
aside, and informed him that a gentleman had just inquired 
from him very eagerly, whether the picture of Virginia was a 
portrait. This gentleman proved to be not the stranger who 
had been at the Asylum, but an eminent jeweller, who told 
Mr. Hervey that his curiosity about the picture arose merely 
from its striking likeness to a miniature, which had been lately 
left at his house to be new set. It belonged to a Mr. Hartley, 
a gentleman who had made a considerable fortune in the 
West Indies, but who was prevented from enjoying his affluence 
by the loss of an only daughter, of whom the miniature was a 
portrait, taken when she was not more than four or five years 
old. When Clarence heard all this, he was extremely impatient 
to know where Mr. Hartley was to be found ; but the jeweller 
could only tell him that the miniature had been called for the 
preceding day by Mr. Hartley's servant, who said his master 
was leaving town in a great hurry to go to Portsmouth, to join 
the West India fleet, which was to sail with the first favourable 
wind. 

Clarence determined immediately to follow him to Ports- 
mouth : he had not a moment to spare, for the wind was 
actually favourable, and his only chance of seeing Mr. Hartley 
was by reaching Portsmouth as soon as possible. This was 
the cause of his taking leave of Belinda in such an abrupt 
manner : painfiil indeed were his feelings at that moment, and 
great the difficulty he felt in parting with her, without giving 
any explanation of his conduct, which must have appeared to 
her capricious and mysterious. He was aware that he had 
explicitly avowed to Lady Delacour his admiration of Miss 
Portman, and that in a thousand instances he had betrayed 
his passion. Yet of her love he dared not trust himself to 

403 



. I 



BELINDA 

think, whilst his affairs were in this doubtful state. He had, 
it is true, some faint hopes that a change in Virginia's situation 
might produce an alteration in her sentiments, and he resolved 
to decide his own conduct by the manner in which she should 
behave, if her father should be found, and she should become 
heiress to a considerable fortune. New views might then open 
to her imagination : the world, the fashionable world, in all its 
glory, would be before her; her beauty and fortune would 
attract a variety of admirers, and Clarence thought that 
perhaps her partiality for him might become less exclusive, 
when she had more opportunities of choice. If her love 
arose merely from circumstances, with circumstances it would 
change ; if it were only a disease of the imagination, induced 
by her seclusion from society, it might be cured by mixing with 
the world ; and then he should be at liberty to follow the 
dictates of his own heart, and declare his attachment to 
Belinda. But if he should find that change of situation made 
no alteration in Virginia's sentiments, if her happiness should 
absolutely depend upon the realisation of those hopes which 
he had imprudently excited, he felt that he should be bound 
to her by all the laws of justice and honour ; laws which no 
passion could tempt him to break. Full of these ideas, he 
hurried to Portsmouth in pursuit of Virginia's father. The 
first question he asked, upon his arrival there, may easily be 
guessed. 

* Has the West India fleet sailed ? ' 

* No : it sails to-morrow morning,' was the answer. 

He hastened instantly to make inquiries for Mr. Hartley. 
No such person could be found, no such gentleman was to be 
heard of anywhere. Hartley^ he was sure, was the name 
which the jeweller mentioned to him, but it was in vain that 
he repeated it ; no Mr. Hartley was to be heard of at Ports- 
mouth, except a pawnbroker. At last, a steward of one of the 
West Indiamen recollected that a gentleman of that name 
came over with him in the Effingham^ and that he talked of 
returning in the same vessel to the West Indies, if he should 
ever leave England again. 

* But we have heard nothing of him since, sir,' said the 
steward. * No passage is taken for him with us.' 

* And my life to a china orange,' cried a sailor who was 
standing by, < he's gone to kingdom come, or more likely to 

404 



A DISCOVERY 

Bedlam, afore this ; for he was plaguy crazy in his timbers, and 
his head wanted righting, I take it, if it was he, Jack, who 
used to walk the deck, you know, with a bit of a picture in his 
hand, to which he seemed to be mumbling his prayers from 
morning to night. There's no use in sounding for him, 
master ; he's down in Dav/s locker long ago, or stowed into 
the tight waistcoat before this time o' day.' 

Notwithstanding this knowing sailor's opinion, Clarence 
would not desist from his sounding ; because having so lately 
heard of him at different places, he could not believe that he 
was gone either into Davy's locker or to Bedlam. He imagined 
that, by some accident, Mr. Hartley had been detained upon 
the road to Portsmouth ; and in the expectation that he would 
certainly arrive before the fleet should sail, Clarence waited 
with tolerable patience. He waited, however, in vain ; he saw 
the Effingham and the whole fleet sail — no Mr. Hartley arrived. 
As he hailed one of the boats of the Effingham which was 
rowing out with some passengers, who had been too late to get 
on board, his friend the sailor answered, * We've no crazy man 
here ; I told you, master, he'd never go out no more in the 
Effingham. He's where I said, master, you'll find, or nowhere.' 

Mr. Hervey remained some days at Portsmouth, after the 
fleet had sailed, in hopes that he might yet obtain some informa- 
tion ; but none could be had ; neither could any ferther tidings be 
obtained from the jeweller, who had first mentioned Mr. Hartley. 
Despairing of success in the object of his journey, he, however, 
determined to delay his return to town for some time, in hopes 
that absence might efface the impression which had been made 
on the heart of Virginia, He made a tour along the picturesque 
coasts of Dorset and Devonshire, and it was during this excur- 
sion that he wrote the letters to Lady Delacour which have so 
often been mentioned. He endeavoured to dissipate his thoughts 
by new scenes and employments, but all his ideas involuntarily 
centred in Belinda. If he saw new characters, he compared 
them with hers, or considered how far she would approve or 
condemn them. The books that he read were perused with a 
constant reference to what she would think or feel ; and during 
his whole journey he never beheld any beautiful prospect, 
without wishing that it could at the same instant be seen by 
Belinda. If her name were mentioned but once in his letters, 
it was because he dared not trust himself to speak of her ; she 

405 



BELINDA 

was for ever present to his mind : but while he was writing to 
Lady Delacour, her idea pressed more strongly upon his heart ; 
he recollected that it was she who first gave him a just insight 
into her ladyship's real character ; he recollected that she had 
joined with him in the benevolent design of reconciling her to 
Lord Delacour, and of creating in her mind a taste for domestic 
happiness. This remembrance operated powerfully to excite 
him to fresh exertions, and the eloquence which touched Lady 
Delacour so much in these ^ edifying^ letters, as she called 
them, was in fact inspired by Belinda. 

Whenever he thought distinctly upon his future plans, Vir- 
ginia's attachment, and the hopes which he had imprudently 
inspired, appeared insuperable obstacles to his union with Miss 
Portman ; but, in more sanguine moments, he flattered himself 
with a confused notion that these difficulties would vanish. 
Great were his surprise and alarm when he received that letter 
of Lady Delacour's, in which she announced the probability of 
Belinda's marriage with Mr. Vincent. In consequence of his 
moving from place to place in the course of his tour, he did not 
receive this letter till nearly a fortnight after it should have 
come to his hands. The instant he received it he set out on 
his way home ; he travelled with all that expedition which 
money can command in England : his first thought and first 
wish when he arrived in town were to go to Lady Delacour's ; 
but he checked his impatience, and proceeded immediately to 
Twickenham, to have his fate decided by Virginia. It was 
with the most painful sensations that he saw her again. The 
accounts which he received from Mrs. Ormond convinced him 
that absence had produced none of the effects which he expected 
on the mind of her pupil. Mrs. Ormond was naturally both 
of an affectionate disposition and a timid temper ; she had 
become excessively fond of Virginia, and her anxiety was more 
than in proportion to her love ; it sometimes balanced and even 
overbalanced her regard and respect for Clarence Hervey him- 
self. When he spoke of his attachment to Belinda, and of his 
doubts respecting Virginia, she could no longer restrain her 
emotion. 

* Oh, indeed, Mr. Hervey,' said she, * this is no time for 
reasoning and doubting. No man in his senses, no man who 
is not wilfully blind, could doubt her being distractedly fond of 
you.' 

406 



A DISCOVERY 

* I am sorry for it,' said Clarence. 

* And why — oh why, Mr. Hervey ? Don't you recollect the 
time when you were all impatience to call her yours, — when 
you thought her the most charming creature in the whole 
world ? ' 

' I had not seen Belinda Portman then.' 

* And I wish to Heaven you never had seen her ! But oh, 
surely, Mr. Hervey, you will not desert my Virginia! — Must 
her health, her happiness, her reputation, all be the sacrifice ? ' 

* Reputation ! Mrs. Ormond.' 

* Reputation, Mr. Hervey : you do not know in what a light 
she is considered here ; nor did I till lately. But I tell you her 
reputation is injured — fatally injured It is whispered, and 
more than whispered everywhere, that she is your mistress. A 
woman came here the other day with the bullfinch, and she 
looked at me, and spoke in such an extraordinary way, that I 
was shocked more than I can express. I need not tell you all 
the particulars ; it is enough that I have made inquiries, and 
am sure, too sure, of what I say, that nothing but your marriage 
with Virginia can save her reputation ; or ' 

Mrs. Ormond stopped short, for at this instant Virginia 
entered the room, walking in her slow manner, as if she were 
in a deep reverie. 

* Since my return,' said Clarence, in an embarrassed voice, 

* I have scarcely heard a syllable from Miss St. Pierre's lips.' 

* Miss St, Pierre ! — He used to call me Virginia,' said she, 
turning to Mrs. Ormond : * he is angry with me — he used to 
call me Virginia.' 

* But you were a child then, you know, my love,' said Mrs. 
Ormond. 

* And I wish I was still a child,' said Virginia. Then, after 
a long pause, she approached Mr. Hervey with extreme timidity, 
and, opening a portfolio which lay on the table, she said to him, 

* If you are at leisure — if I do not interrupt you — would you 
look at these drawings ; though they are not worth your seeing, 
except as proofs that I can conquer my natural indolence ? ' 

The drawings were views which she had painted from 
memory, of scenes in the New Forest, near her grandmother's 
cottage. That cottage was drawn with an exactness that proved 
how fresh it was in her remembrance. Many recollections 
rushed forcibly into Clarence Herve/s mind at the sight of 

407 



BELINDA 

this cottage. The charming image of Virginia, as it first struck 
his fancy, — the smile, the innocent smile, with which she offered 
him the finest rose in her basket, — the stem voice in which her 
grandmother spoke to her, — the prophetic fears of her protect- 
ress, — the figure of the dying woman, — the solemn promise he 
made to her, — ^all recurred, in rapid succession, to his memory. 

* You don't seem to like that,' said Virginia ; and then 
putting another drawing into his hands, * perhaps this may 
please you better.' 

* They are beautiful ; they are surprisingly well done I ' ex- 
claimed he. 

* I knew he would like them 1 I told you so ! ' cried Mrs. 
Ormond, in a triumphant tone. 

*You see,' said Virginia, *that though you have heard 
scarcely a syllable from Miss St. Pierre's lips since your return, 
yet she has not been unmindfiil of your wishes in your absence. 
You told her, some time ago, that you wished she would try to 
improve in drawing. She has done her best. But do not 
trouble yourself to look at them any longer,' said Virginia, 
taking one of her drawings from his hand ; < I merely wanted 
to show you that, though I have no genius, I have some * 

Her voice faltered so that she could not pronounce the word 
gratitude. 

Mrs. Ormond pronounced it for her ; and added, * I can 
answer for it, that Virginia is not ungrateful.' 

* Ungrateful I ' repeated Clarence ; * who ever thought her 
so ? Why did you put these ideas into her mind ? ' 

Virginia, resting her head on Mrs. Ormond's shoulder, wept 
bitterly. 

* You have worked upon her sensibility till you have made 
her miserable,' cried Clarence angrily. * Virginia, listen to 
me : look at me,' said he, affectionately taking her hand ; but 
she pressed closer to Mrs. Ormond, and would not raise her 
head. * Do not consider me as your master — your tyrant ; do 
not imagine that I think you ungrateful ! ' 

*0h, I am — I am — I am ungrateful to you,' cried she, 
sobbing ; * but Mrs. Ormond never told me so ; do not blame 
her : she has never worked upon my sensibility. Do you 
think,' said she, looking up, while a transient expression of 
indignation passed over her countenance, ' do you think I can- 
not 7^^/ without having been taught ?' 

408 



A DISCOVERY 

Clarence uttered a deep sigh. 

* But if you feel too much, my dearest Virginia, — if you give 
way to your feelings in this manner,' said Mrs. Ormofid, * you 
will make both yourself and Mr. Hervey unhappy.' 

* Heaven forbid ! The first wish of my soul is * She 

paused. * I should be the most ungrateful wretch in the world, 
if I were to make him unhappy.* 

* But if he sees you miserable, Virginia ? * 

* Then he shall not see it,' said she, wiping the tears from 
her face. 

* To imagine that you were unhappy, and that you concealed 
it from us, would be still worse,' said Clarence. 

* But why should you imagine it ? ' replied Virginia ; * you 
are too good, too kind ; but do not fancy that I am not happy : 
I am sure I ought to be happy.' 

* Do you regret your cottage ? ' said Clarence : * these draw- 
ings show how well you remember it.' 

Virginia coloured ; and with some hesitation, answered, * Is 
it my fault if I cannot forget ? ' 

* You were happier then, Virginia, than you are now, you 
will confess,' said Mrs. Ormond, who was not a woman of 
refined delicacy, and who thought that the best chance she had 
of working upon Mr. Herve/s sense of honour was by making 
it plain to him how much her pupil's affections were engaged. 

Virginia made no answer to this question, and her silence 
touched Clarence more than anything she could have said. 
When Mrs. Ormond repeated her question, he relieved the 
trembling girl by saying, * My dear Mrs. Ormond, confidence 
must be won, not demanded.' 

' I have no right to insist upon confessions, I know,' said 
Mrs. Ormond; *but ' 

* Confessions ! I do not wish to conceal anything, but I 
think sincerity is not always in our sex consistent with — I 
mean — I don't know what I mean, what I say, or what I 
ought to say,' cried Virginia ; and she sunk down on a sofa, in 
extreme confusion. 

* Why will you agitate her, Mrs. Ormond, in this manner ? ' 
said Mr. Hervey, with an expression of sudden anger. It was 
succeeded by a look of such tender compassion for Virginia, 
that Mrs. Ormond rejoiced to have excited his anger ; at any 
price she wished to serve her beloved pupil. 

409 



BELINDA 

* Do not be in the least apprehensive, my dear Virginia, that 
we should take ungenerous advantage of the openness and sim^ 
plicity of your character,' said Mr. Hervey. 

* Oh no, no ; I cannot, do not apprehend anything ungene- 
rous from you ; you are, you ever have been, my best, my 
most generous friend ! But I fear that I have not the simplicity 
of character, the openness that you imagine; and yet, I am 
sure, I wish, from the bottom of my heart — I wish to do right, 
if I knew how. But there is not one — no, not one — person in 
the whole world,' continued she, her eyes moving from Mrs. 
Ormond to Mr. Hervey, and from him to Mrs. Ormond again, 
*not one person in the whole world I dare — I ought — to lay 
my heart open to. I have, perhaps, said more than is proper 
already. But this I know,' added she, in a firm tone, rising, 
and addressing herself to Clarence, ^you shall never be made 
unhappy by me. And do not think about my happiness so 
much,' said she, forcing a smile ; * I am, I will be, perfectly 
happy. Only let me always know your wishes, your sentiments, 
your feelings, and by them I will, as I ought, regulate mine.* 

* Amiable, charming, generous girl 1 ' cried Clarence. 

* Take care,' said Mrs. Ormond ; * take care, Virginia, lest 
you promise more than you can perform. Wishes, and feelings, 
and sentiments, are not to be so easily regulated.' 

* I did not, I believe, say it was easy ; but I hope it is 
possible,' replied Virginia. * I promise nothing but what I am 
able to perform.' 

* I doubt it,' said Mrs. Ormond, shaking her head. * You 
are — you will be perfectly happy. O Virginia, my love, do 
not deceive yourself; do not deceive us so terribly. I am 
sorry to put you to the blush ; but ^ 

* Not a word more, my dear madam, I beg — I insist,' said 
Mr. Hervey in a commanding tone ; but, for the first time in 
her life, regardless of him, she persisted. 

* I only ask you to call to mind, my dearest Virginia,' said 
she, taking her hand, * the morning that you screamed in your 
sleep, the morning when you told me the frightful dream — 
were you perfectly happy then ? ' 

* It is easy to force my thoughts from me,' said Virginia, 
withdrawing her hand from Mrs. Ormond ; * but it is cruel to 
do so.' And with an air of offended dignity she passed them, 
and quitted the room, 

410 



A DISCOVERY 

* I wish to Heaven 1 ' exclaimed Mrs. Ormond, * that Miss 
Portman was married, and out of the way — I shall never for- 
give myself I We have used this poor girl cruelly amongst us ; 
she loves you to distraction, and I have encouraged her passion, 
and I have betrayed her — oh, fool that I was ! I told her that 
she would certainly be your wife.' 

* You have told her so 1 — Did I not charge you, Mrs. 
Ormond * 

* Yes ; but I could not help it, when I saw the sweet girl 
fading away — and, besides, I am sure she thought it, from your 
manner, long and long before I told it to her. Do you forget 
how fond of her you were scarce one short year ago ? And do 
you forget how plainly you let her see your passion ? Oh, how 
can you blame her, if she loves you, and if she is unhappy ? ' 

' I blame no one but myself' cried Clarence ; < I must abide 
by the consequences of my own folly. Unhappy ! — she shall 
not be unhappy ; she does not deserve to be so.' 

He walked backward and forward, with hasty steps, for 
some minutes ; then sat down and wrote a letter to Virginia. 

When he had finished it, he put it into Mrs. Ormond's 
hands. 

* Read it — seal it — ^give it to her — and let her answer be 
sent to town to me, at Dr. X.'s, in Clifford Street' 

Mrs. Ormond clasped her hands, in an ecstasy of joy, as 
she glanced her eye over the letter, for it contained an offer of 
his hand 

* This is like yourself ; like what I always knew you to be 
dear Mr. Hervey ! ' she exclaimed 

But her exclamation was lost upon him. When she looked up, 
to repeat her praises, she perceived he was gone. After the 
effort which he had made, he wished for time to tranquillise 
his mind, before he should again see Virginia. What her 
answer to this letter would be he could not doubt : his fate was 
now decided, and he determined immediately to write to Lady 
Delacour to explain his situation ; he felt that he had not 
sufficient fortitude at this moment to make such an explanation 
in person. With all the strength of his mind, he endeavoured 
to exclude Belinda from his thoughts, but curiosity — (for he 
would suffer himself to call it by no other name) — curiosity to 
know whether she were actually engaged to Mr. Vincent 
obtruded itself with such force, that it could not be resisted. 

411 



BELINDA 

From Dr. X he thought he could obtain full information, 

and he hastened immediately to town. When he got to 
Clifford Street, he found that the doctor was not at home ; his 
servant said he might probably be met with at Mrs. Margaret 
Delacour's, as he usually finished his morning rounds at her 
house. Thither Mr. Hervey inmiediately went. 

The first sound that he heard, as he went up her stairs, was 
the screaming of a macaw; and the first person he saw, 
through the open door of the drawing-room, was Helena 
Delacour. She was standing with her back to him, leaning 
over the macaw's cage, and he heard her say in a joyful tone, 

* Yes, though you do scream so frightfully, my pretty macaw, I 
love you as well as Marriott ever did. When my dear, good 
Miss Portman sent this macaw — My dear atmt ! here's Mr. 
Hervey ! — you were just wishing to see him.' 

* Mr. Hervey,' said the old lady, with a benevolent smile, 

* your little friend Helena tells you truth ; we were just 
wishing for you. I am sure it will give you pleasure to hear 
that I am at last a convert to your opinion of Lady Delacour. 
She has given up all those that I used to call her rantipole 
acquaintance. She has reconciled herself to her husband, and 
to his friends ; and Helena is to go home to live with her. 
Here is a charming note I have just received from her I Dine 
with me on Thursday next, and you will meet her ladyship, 
and see a happy family party. You have had some share in the 
reformation^ I know, and that was the reason I wished that you 
should be with us on Thursday. You see I am not an obstin- 
ate old woman, though I was cross the first day I saw you at 
Lady Anne Percival's. I found I was mistaken in your 
character, and I am glad of it. But this note of Lady Dela- 
cour's seems to have struck you dumb.' 

There were, indeed, a few words in this note, which de- 
prived him, for some moments, of all power of utterance. 

* The report you have heard (unlike most other reports) is 
perfectly well founded : Mr. Vincent, Belinda's admirer, is 
here. I will bring him with us on Thursday.' 

Mr. Hervey was relieved from the necessity of accounting 
to Mrs. Delacour for his sudden embarrassment, by the 

entrance of Dr. X and another gentleman, of whom, in 

the confusion of his mind, Clarence did not at first take any 
notice. Dr. X , with his usual mixture of benevolence 

412 



A DISCOVERY 

and raillery, addressed himself to Clarence, whilst the stranger 
took out of his pocket some papers, and in a low voice entered 
earnestly into conversation with Mrs. Delacour. 

'Now, tell me, if you can, Clarence,' said Dr. X , 

* which of your three mistresses you like best ? I think I left 
you some months ago in great doubt upon this subject : are 
you still in that philosophic state ? ' 

* No,' said Clarence ; * all doubts are over — I am going to 
be married.' 

* Bravo I — But you look as if you were going to be hanged. 
May I, as it will so soon be in the newspaper, may I ask the 
name of the fair lady ? ' 

* Virginia St. Pierre. You shall know her history and mine 
when we are alone,' said Mr. Hervey, lowering his voice. 

*You need not lower your voice,' said Dr. X , *for 

Mrs. Delacour is, as you see, so much taken up with her own 
affairs, that she has no curiosity for those of her neighbours ; 
and Mr. Hartley is as busy as * 

* Mr. who ? Mr. Hartley did you say ? ' interrupted Clar- 
ence, eagerly turning his eyes upon the stranger, who was a 
middle-aged gentleman, exactly answering the description of 
the person who had been at the Asylum in search of his daughter, 

* Mr. Hartley! yes. What astonishes you so much?' said 
X calmly. * He is a West Indian. I met him in Cam- 
bridgeshire last stunmer, at his friend Mr. Horton's ; he has 
been very generous to the poor people who suffered by the 
fire, and he is now consulting with Mrs. Delacour, who has an 
estate adjoining to Mr. Horton's, about her tenants, whose 
houses in the village were burnt. Now I have, in as few words 
and parentheses as possible, told you all I know of Mr. 
Hartley's history ; but your curiosity still looks voracious.' 

*I want to know whether he has a miniature?' said Clarence 
hastily. * Introduce me to him, for Heaven's sake, directly ! ' 

* Mr. Hartley,' cried the doctor, raising his voice, * give me 
leave to introduce my friend Mr. Hervey to you, and to your 
miniature picture, if you have one.' 

Mr. Hartley sighed profoundly as he drew from his bosom 
a small portrait, which he put into Mr. Hervey's hands, saying, 

* Alas ! sir, you cannot, I fear, give me any tidings of the 
original ; it is the picture of a daughter, whom I have never 
seen since she was an infant — whom I never shall see again.' 

413 



BELINDA 

Clarence instantly knew it to be Virginia ; but as he was 
upon the point of making some joyful exclamation, he felt Dr. 

X touch his shoulder, and looking up at Mr. Hartley, he 

saw in his countenance such strong workings of passion, that 
he prudently suppressed his own emotion, and calmly said, 

* It would be cruel, sir, to give you false hopes.' 

* It would kill me — it would kill me, sir ! — or worse ! — 
worse ! a thousand times worse 1 * cried Mr. Hartley, putting 
his hand to his forehead. 'What,' continued he impatiently, 
< what was the meaning of the look you gave, when you first 
saw that picture ? Speak, if you have any humanity ! Did 
you ever see any one that resembles that picture ? ' 

*I have seen, I think, a picture,' said Clarence Hervey, 

* that has some resemblance to it.' 

* When ? where ? ' 

' My good sir,' said Dr. X , * let me recommend it to 

you to consider that there is scarcely any possibility of judging, 
from the features of children, of what their faces may be when 
they grow up. Nothing can be more feUacious than these 
accidental resemblances between the pictures of children and 
of grown-up people.* 

Mr. Hartley's countenance fell. 

* But,' added Clarence Hervey, * you will perhaps, sir, think 
it worth your while to see the picture of which I speak ; you 

can see it at Mr. F ^'s, the painter, in Newman Street ; 

and I will accompany you thither whenever you please.' 

* This moment, if you would have the goodness : my 
carriage is at the door ; and Mrs. Delacour will be so kind to 
excuse ' 

< Oh, make no apologies to me at such a time as this,' said 
Mrs. Delacour. * Away with you, gentlemen, as soon as you 
please ; upon condition, that if you have any good news to 
tell, some of you will remember, in the midst of your joy, that 
such an old woman as Mrs. Margaret Delacour exists, who 
loves to hear good news of those who deserve it.' 

It was so late in the day when they got to Newman Street, 
that they were obliged to light candles. Trembling with 
eagerness, Mr. Hartley drew near, while Clarence held the 
light to the picture. 

< It is so like,' said he, looking at his miniature, < that I 
dare not believe my senses. Dr. X ^ pray do you look. 

414 



Trrmlling ■wllh utgtrtut!, Mr. ffarlley drtw Kta', whlli ClartKi /uld tht Ught 



BELINDA 

ten years old, when he caught a fever, which at that time 
raged in Jamaica, and, after a few days' illness, died. His 
mother was carried off by the same disease ; and Mr. Hartley, 
left alone in the midst of his wealth, felt how insufficient it 
was to happiness. Remorse now seized him ; he returned to 
England in search of his deserted daughter. To this neglected 
child he now looked forward for the peace and happiness of 
the remainder of his life. Disappointment in all his inquiries 
for some months preyed upon his spirits to such a degree, that 
his intellects were at times disordered ; this derangement was 
the cause of his not sooner recovering his child. He was in 
confinement during the time that Clarence Herveys advertise- 
ments were inserted in the papers ; and his illness was also the 
cause of his not going to Portsmouth, and sailing in the Effing- 
ham^ as he had originally intended. The history of his connection 
with Mr. Horton would be uninteresting to the reader ; it is 
enough to say, that he was prevailed upon, by that gentleman, 
to spend some time in the country with him, for the recovery 
of his health ; and it was there that he became acquainted 

with Dr. X , who introduced him, as we have seen, to Mrs. 

Margaret Delacour, at whose house he met Clarence Hervey. 
This is the most succinct account that we can give of him and 
his affairs. His own account was ten times as long ; but we 
spare our readers his incoherences and reflections, because, 
perhaps, they are in a hurry to get to Twickenham, and to 
hear of his meeting with Virginia. 

Mrs. Ormond found it no easy task to prepare Virginia for 
the sight of Mr. Hartley. Virginia had scarcely ever spoken 
of her father ; but the remembrance of things which she had 
heard of him from her grandmother was fresh in her mind ; 
she had often pictured him in her fancy, and she had secretly 
nourished the hope that she should not for ever be a deserted 
child, Mrs. Ormond had observed, that in those romances, 
of which she was so fond, everything that related to children 
who were deserted by their parents affected her strongly. 

The belief in what the French call la force du sang was 
suited to her affectionate temper and ardent imagination, and 
it had taken full possession of her mind. The eloquence of 
romance persuaded her that she should not only discover but love 
her father with intuitive filial piety, and she longed to experience 
those yearnings of affection of which she had read so much. 

418 



A DISCOVERY 

The first moment that Mrs. Ormond began to speak of 
Mr. Clarence Herve^s hopes of discovering her father, she 
was transported with joy. 

* My father ! — How delightful that word father sounds ! — 
My father ? — May I say my father ? — And will he own me, 
and will he love me, and will he give me his blessing, and 
will he fold me in his arms, and call me his daughter, his dear 
daughter ? — Oh, how I shall love him ! I will make it the 
whole business of my life to please him ! ' 

* The whole business ? ' said Mrs. Ormond, smiling. 

* Not the whole,* said Virginia ; ' I hope my father will like 
Mr. Hervey. Did not you say that he is rich ? I wish that 
my father may be very rich.' 

* That is the last wish that I should have expected to hear 
from you, my Virginia.* 

* But do you not know why I wish it ? — that I may show 
my gratitude to Mr. Hervey.* 

*My dear child,* said Mrs. Ormond, * these are most 
generous sentiments, and worthy of you ; but do not let your 
imagination run away with you at this rate — Mr. Hervey is 
rich enough.' 

* I wish he were poor,* said Virginia, * that I might make 
him rich.' 

*He would not love you the better, my dear,' said Mrs. 
Ormond, * if you had the wealth of the Indies. Perhaps your 
father may not be rich ; therefore do not set your heart upon 
this idea.* 

Virginia sighed : fear succeeded to hope, and her imagina- 
tion immediately reversed the bright picture that it had drawn. 

* But I am afraid,* said she, * that this gentleman is not my 
father — how disappointed I shall be ! I wish you had never 
told me all this, my dear Mrs. Ormond.* 

*I would not have told it to you, if Mr. Hervey had not 
desired that I should ; and you may be sure he would not 
have desired it, unless he had good reason to believe that you 
would not be disappointed.* 

*But he is not sure — he does not say he is quite sure. 
And, even if I were quite certain of his being my father, how 
can I be certain that he will not disown me — he, who has 
deserted me so long ? My grandmother, I remember, often 
used to say that he had no natural affection.' 

419 



BELINDA 

* Your grandmother was mistaken, then ; for he has been 
searching for his child all over England, Mr. Hervey says ; and 
he has almost lost his senses with grief and with remorse 1 ' 

* Remorse ! * 

* Yes, remorse, for having so long deserted you : he fears 
that you will hate him.' 

* Hate him 1 — is it possible to hate a father ? ' said Virginia. 

* He dreads that you should never forgive him.' 
'Forgive him! — I have read of parents forgiving their 

children, but I never remember to have read of a daughter 
forgiving her fether. Forgive / you should not have used that 
word. I czxiTiot forgive my father : but I can love him, and I 
will make him quite forget all his sorrows — I mean, all his 
sorrows about me.' 

After this conversation Virginia spent her time in imagin- 
ing what sort of person her father would be ; whether he was 
like Mr. Hervey ; what words he would say j where he would 
sit ; whether he would sit beside her ; and, above all, whether 
he would give her his blessing. 

< I am afraid,' said she, ' of liking my &ther better than 
anybody elseJ 

* No danger of that, my dear,' said Mrs. Ormond, smiling. 

* I am glad of it, for it would be very wrong and ungrateful 
to like anything in this world so well as Mr. Hervey.' 

The carriage now came to the door : Mrs. Ormond instantly 
ran to the window, but Virginia had not power to move — ^her 
heart beat violently. 

* Is he come ? ' said she. 

< Yes, he is getting out of the carriage this moment ! ' 
Virginia stood with her eyes eagerly fixed upon the door : 

< Hark ! ' said she, laying her hand upon Mrs. Ormond's arm, 
to prevent her from moving : ' Hush ! that we may hear his 
voice.' 

She was breathless — no voice was to be heard : * They 
are not coming,' said she, turning as pale as death. An 
instant afterwards her colour returned — she heard the steps of 
two people coming up the stairs. 

* His step I — Do you hear it ? — Is it my father ?' 
Virginia's imagination was worked to the highest pitch; 

she could scarcely sustain herself: Mrs. Ormond supported 
her. At this instant her father appeared. 

420 



A DISCOVERY 

* My child I — the image of her mother ! ' exclaimed he, 
stopping short : he sunk upon a chair. 

* My father ! ' cried Virginia, springing forward, and throw- 
ing herself at his feet. 

'The voice of her mother 1' said Mr. Hartley. 'My 
daughter ! — My long lost child 1 ' 

He tried to raise her, but could not ; her arms were clasped 
round his knee, her face rested upon it, and when he stooped 
to kiss her cheek, he found it cold — she had fainted. 

When she came to her senses, and found herself in her 
father's arms, she could scarcely believe that it was not a 
dream. 

* Your blessing ! — give me your blessing, and then I shall 
know that you are indeed my father ! ' cried Virginia, kneeling 
to him, and looking up with an enthusiastic expression of filial 
piety in her countenance. 

* God bless you, my sweet child ! ' said he, laying his hand 
upon her ; * and God forgive your father ! * 

* My grandmother died without giving me her blessing,' said 
Virginia ; * but now I have been blessed by my father I Happy, 
happy moment ! — Oh that she could look down from heaven, 
and see us at this instant ! ' 

Virginia was so much astonished and overpowered by this 
sudden discovery of a parent, and by the novelty of his first 
caresses, that after the first violent effervescence of her sen- 
sibility was over, she might, to an indifferent spectator, have 
appeared stupid and insensible. Mrs. Ormond, though far 
from an indifferent spectator, was by no means a penetrating 
judge of the hiunan heart : she seldom saw more than the 
external symptoms of feeling, and she was apt to be rather 
impatient with her friends if theirs did not accord with her own. 

* Virginia, my dear,' said she, in rather a reproachful tone, 
* Mr. Hervey, you see, has left the room, on purpose to leave 
you at full liberty to talk to your father ; and I am going — but 
you are so silent 1 ' 

' I have so much to say, and my heart is so full ! ' said 
Virginia. 

* Yes, I know you told me of a thousand things that you 
had to say to your father, before you saw him.' 

'But now I see him, I have forgotten them all. I can 
think of nothing but of him. 

421 



BELINDA 

* Of him and Mr. Hervey,' said Mrs. Ormond. 

* I was not thinking of Mr. Hervey at that moment,' said 
Virginia, blushing. 

* Well, my love, I will leave you to think and talk of what 
you please,' said Mrs. Ormond, smiling significantly as she left 
the room. 

Mr. Hartley folded his daughter in his arms with the 
fondest expressions of parental affection, and he was upon the 
point of telling her how much he approved of the choice of 
her heart ; but he recollected his promise, and he determined 
to sound her inclinations farther, before he even mentioned the 
name of Clarence Hervey. 

He began by painting the pleasures of the world, that world 
from which she had hitherto been secluded. 

She heard him with simple indifference : not even her 
curiosity was excited. 

He observed, that though she had no curiosity to see, it 
was natural that she must have some pleasure in the thoughts 
of being seen. 

* What pleasure ? ' said Virginia. 

* The pleasure of being admired and loved : beauty and 
grace such as yours, my child, cannot be seen without com- 
manding admiration and love.' 

* I do not want to be admired,' replied Virginia, * and I 
want to be loved by those only whom I love.' 

'My dearest daughter, you shall be entirely your own 
mistress ; I will never \nterfere, either directly or indirectly, 
in the disposal of your heart.' 

At these last words, Virginia, who had listened to all 
the rest unmoved, took her father's hand, and kissed it re- 
peatedly. 

* Now that I have found you, my darling child, let me at 
least make you happy, if I can — it is the only atonement in 
my power ; it will be the only solace of my declining years. 
All that wealth can bestow ' 

* Wealth ! ' interrupted Virginia : * then you have wealth ? ' 

* Yes, my child — may it make you happy ! that is all the 
enjoyment I expect from it : it shall all be yours.' 

* And may I do what I please with it ? — Oh, then it will 
indeed make me happy. I will give it all, all to Mr. Hervey. 
How delightful to have something to give to Mr. Hervey ! * 

422 



A DISCOVERY 

And had you never anything to give to Mr. Hcrvcy till 
now?' 

* Never ! never ! he has given me everything. Now — O 
joyful day ! — I can prove to him that Virginia is not ungrateful !' 

* Dear, generous girl,' said her father, wiping the tears from 
his eyes, * what a daughter have I found ! But tell me, my 
child,' continued he, smiling, * do you think Mr. Hervey will 
be content if you give him only your fortune ? Do you think 
that he would accept the fortune without the heart ? Nay, do 
not turn away that dear blushing face from me ; remember it 
is your father who speaks to you. Mr. Hervey will not take 
your fortune without yourself, I am afraid : what shall we do ? 
Must I refuse him your hand ? ' 

^ Refuse him ! do you think that I could refuse him any- 
thing, who has given me everything ? — I should be a monster 
indeed ! There is no sacrifice I would not make, no exertion 
of which I am not capable, for Mr. Hervey^s sake. But, my 
dear father,' said she, changing her tone, * he never asked for 
my hand till yesterday.' 

But he had won your heart long ago, I see, thought her 
father. 

* I have written an answer to his letter ; will you look at it, 
and tell me if you approve of it ? ' 

* I do approve of it, my darling child : I will not read it — I 
know what it must be : he has a right to the preference he 
has so nobly earned.' 

* Oh, he has — he has, indeed ! ' cried Virginia, with an 
expression of strong feeling ; * and now is the time to show 
him that I am not ungrateful.' 

* How I love you for this, my child ! ' cried her father, 
fondly embracing her. * This is exactly what I wished, though 
I did not dare to say so till I was sure of your sentiments. 
Mr. Hervey charged me to leave you entirely to yourself; he 
thought that your new situation might perhaps produce some 
change in your sentiments : I see he was mistaken ; and I am 
heartily glad of it. But you are going to say something, my 
dear ; do not let me interrupt you,' 

* I was only going to beg that you would give this letter, my 
dear father, to Mr. Hervey. It is an answer to one which he 
wrote to me when I was poor ' — and deserted^ she was near 
saying, but she stopped herself. 

423 



BELINDA 

* I wish/ continued she, * Mr. Hervey should know that my 
sentiments are precisely the same now that they have always 
been. Tell him,' added she, proudly, *that he did me in- 
justice by imagining that my sentiments could alter with my 
situation. He little knows Virginia.' Clarence at this moment 
entered the room, and Mr. Hartley eagerly led his daughter to 
meet him. 

* Take her hand,' cried he ; * you have her heart — ^you 
deserve it ; and she has just been very angry with me for 
doubting. But read her letter, — that will speak better for her, 
and more to your satisfaction, no doubt, than I can.' 

Virginia hastily put the letter into Mr. Hervey's hand, and, 
breaking from her father, retired to her own apartment. 

With all the trepidation of a person who feels that the 
happiness of his life is to be decided in a few moments, 
Clarence tore open Virginia's letter, and, conscious that he 
was not able to command his emotion, he withdrew from her 
father's inquiring eyes. Mr. Hartley, however, saw nothing in 
this agitation but what he thought natural to a lover, and he 
was delighted to perceive that his daughter had inspired so 
strong a passion. 

Virginia's letter contained but these few lines : 

* Most happy shall I be if the whole of my future life can 
prove to you how deeply I feel your goodness. 

* Virginia St. Pierre.' 

[End of C, Hervey s packet,'] 

An acceptance so direct left Clarence no alternative : his 
fate was decided. He determined immediately to force himself 
to see Belinda and Mr. Vincent ; for he fancied that his mind 
would be more at ease when he had convinced himself by 
ocular demonstration that she was absolutely engaged to 
another ; that, consequently, even if he were free, he could 
have no chance of gaining her affections. There are moments 
when we desire the conviction which at another time would 
overwhelm us with despair: it was in this temper that Mr. 
Hervey paid his visit to Lady Delacour; but we have seen 
that he was unable to support for many minutes that philo- 
sophic composure to which, at his first entrance into the room, 
he had worked up his mind. The tranquillity which he had 

424 



E O 

expected would be the consequence of this visit, he was farther 
than ever from obtaining. The extravagant joy with which 
Lady Delacour received him, and an indescribable something 
in her manner when she looked from him to Belinda, and from 
Belinda to Mr. Vincent, persuaded him her ladyship wished 
that he were in Mr. Vincent's place. The idea was so de- 
lightful, that his soul was entranced, and for a few minutes 
Virginia, and everything that related to her, vanished from his 
remembrance. It was whilst he was in this state that Lady 
Delacour (as the reader may recollect) invited him into her 
lord's dressing-room, to tell her the contents of the packet, 
which had not then reached her hands. The request suddenly 
recalled him to his senses, but he felt that he was not at this 
moment able to trust himself to her ladyship's penetration ; he 
therefore referred her to his letter for that explanation which 
he dreaded to make in person, and he escaped from Belinda's 
presence, resolving never more to expose himself to such 
danger. 

What effect his packet produced on Lady Delacour's mind 
and on Belinda's, we shall not at present stop to inquire ; but 
having brought up Clarence Henley's affairs to the present 
day, we shall continue his history. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

E O 

Though Clarence Hervey was not much disposed to see either 
Virginia or her father whilst he was in the state of perturbation 
into which he had been thrown by his interview with Belinda, 
yet he did not delay to send his servant home with a note to 
Mrs. Ormond, to say that he would meet Mr. Hartley, when- 
ever he pleased, at his lawyer's, to make whatever arrangements 
might be necessary for proper settlements. 

As he saw no possibility of receding with honour, he, with 
becoming resolution, desired to urge things forward as fast as 
possible, and to strengthen in his mind the sense of the 
necessity of the sacrifice that he was bound to make. His 

425 



BELINDA 

passions were naturally impetuous, but he had by persevering 
efforts brought them under the subjection of his reason. His 
power over himself was now to be put to a severe trial. 

As he was going to town, he met Lord Delacour, who was 
riding in the park : he was extremely intent upon his own 
thoughts, and was anxious to pass unnoticed. In former 
times this would have been the most feasible thing imaginable, 
for Lord Delacour used to detest the sight of Clarence Hervey, 
whom he considered as the successor of Colonel Lawless in 
his lady's favour ; but his opinion and his feelings had been 
entirely changed by the perusal of those letters, which were 
perfumed with ottar of roses : even this perfume had, from 
that association, become agreeable to him. He now accosted 
Clarence with a warmth and cordiality in his manner that at any 
other moment must have pleased as much as it surprised him ; 
but Clarence was not in a humour to enter into conversation. 

* You seem to be in haste, Mr. Hervey,' said his lordship, 
observing his impatience ; * but, as I know your good nature, 
I shall make no scruple to detain you a quarter of an hour.' 

As he spoke he turned his horse, and rode with Clarence, 
who looked as if he wished that his lordship had been more 
scrupulous, and that he had not such a reputation for good 
nature. 

* You will not refuse me this quarter of an hour, I am sure,' 
continued Lord Delacour, * when you hear that, by favouring 
me with your attention, you may perhaps materially serve an 
old, or rather a young, friend of yours, and one whom I once 
fancied was a particular favourite — I mean, Miss Belinda 
Portman.' 

At the name of Belinda Portman, Clarence Hervey became 
all attention : he assured his lordship that he was in no haste ; 
and all his difEculty now was to moderate the eagerness of his 
curiosity. 

* We can take a turn or two in the park, as well as any- 
where,' said his lordship : * nobody will overhear us, and the 
sooner you know what I have to say the better.' 

* Certainly,' said Clarence. 

The most malevolent person upon earth could not have 
tired poor Clarence's patience more than good-natured Lord 
Delacour contrived to do, with the best intentions possible, by 
his habitual circumlocution. 

426 



E O 

He descanted at length upon the difEculties, as the world 
goes, of meeting with a confidential friend, whom it is prudent 
to trust in any affair that demands delicacy, honour, and 
address. Men of talents were often, he observed, devoid of 
integrity, and men of integrity devoid of talents. When he 
had obtained Hervey's assent to this proposition, he next paid 
him sundry handsome, but long-winded compliments : then he 
complimented himself for having just thought of Mr. Hervey 
as the fittest person he could apply to : then he congratulated 
himself upon his good luck in meeting with the very man he 
was just thinking of. At last, after Clarence had returned 
thanks for all his kindness, and had given assent to all his 
lordship's truisms, the substance of the business came out. 

Lord Delacour informed Mr. Hervey, *that he had been 
lately commissioned, by Lady Delacour, to discover what 
attractions drew a Mr. Vincent so constantly to Mrs. 
Luttridge's ' 

Here he was going to explain who Mr. Vincent was ; but 
Clarence assured him that he knew perfectly well that he had 
been a ward of Mr. Percival's, that he was a West Indian of 
large fortune, etc. 

* And a lover of Miss Portman's — that is the most material 
part of the story to mey continued Lord Delacour ; * for other- 
wise, you know, Mr. Vincent would be no more to me than 
any other gentleman. But in that point of view — I mean as 
a lover of Belinda Portman, and I may say, not quite unlikely 
to be her husband — he is highly interesting to my Lady 
Delacour, and to me, and to you, as Miss Portman's well- 
wisher, doubdess.' 

* Doubtless ! ' was all Mr. Hervey could reply. 

* Now, you must know,' continued his lordship, * that Lady 
Delacour has, for a woman, an uncommon share of penetration, 
and can put things together in a wonderful way : in short, it 
has come to her (my Lady Delacour's) knowledge, that before 
Miss Portman was at Oakly Park last summer, and after she 
left it this autumn, Mr. Vincent was a constant visitor at Mrs. 
Luttridge's, whilst at Harrowgate, and used to play high 
(though unknown to the Percivals, of course) at billiards 
with Mr. Luttridge — a man^ I confess, I disliked always^ 
even when I carried the election for them. But no matter : 
it is not from enmity I speak now. But it is very well known 

427 



BELINDA 

that Luttridge has but a small fortune, and yet lives as if he 
had a large one ; and all the young men who like high play 
are sure to be well received at his house. Now, I hope 
Mr. Vincent is not well received on that footing. 

'Since my Lady Delacour and I have been such good 
friends,' continued his lordship, ' I have dropped all connection 
with the Luttridges ; so cannot go there myself : moreover, I 
do not wish to be tempted to lose any more thousands to the 
lady. But you never play, and you are not likely to be 
tempted to it now ; so you will oblige me and Lady Delacour 
if you will go to Luttridge's to-night : she is always charmed 
to see you, and you will easily discover how the land lies. 
Mr, Vincent is certainly a very agreeable, open-hearted young 
man ; but, if he game, God forbid that Miss Portman should 
ever be his wife ! ' 

* God forbid 1 ' said Clarence Hervey. 

* The man,' resumed Lord Delacour, * must, in my opinion, 
be very superior indeed who is deserving of Belinda Portman. 

Mr. Hervey, you do not — ^you cannot know her merit, as 

1 do. It is one thing, sir, to see a fine girl in a ball-room, 
and another — quite another — to live in the house with her for 
months, and to see her, as I have seen Belinda Portman, in 
everyday life, as one may call it. Then it is one can judge 
of the real temper, manners, and character ; and never woman 
had so sweet a temper, such charming manners, such a fair, 
open, generous, decided yet gentle character, as this Miss 
Portman.' 

' Your lordship speaks con atnore^ said Clarence. 

* I speak, Mr. Hervey, from the bottom of my soul,' cried 
Lord Delacour, pulling in his horse, and stopping short. ' I 
should be an unfeeling, ungrateful brute, if I were not sensible 
of the obligations — yes, the obligations — which my Lady 
Delacour and I have received from Belinda Portman. Why, 

sir, she has been the peacemaker between us but we will 

not talk of that now. Let us think of her affairs. If Mr. 
Vincent once gets into Mrs. Luttridge's cursed set, there's no 
knowing where it will end. I speak from my own experience, 
for I really never was fond of high play ; and yet, when I got 
into that set, I could not withstand it. I lost by hundreds and 
thousands ; and so will he, before he is aware of it, no doubt. 
Mrs. Luttridge will look upon him as her dupe, and make him 

428 



EO . 

such. I always — but this is between ourselves — suspected 
that I did not lose my last thousand to her fairly* Now, 
Hervey, you know the whole, do try and save Mr. Vincent, 
for Belinda Portman's sake.' 

Clarence Hervey shook hands with Lord Delacour, with a 
sentiment of real gratitude and affection ; and assured him that 
his confidence was not misplaced. His lordship little suspected 
that he had been soliciting him to save his rival. Clarence's 
love was not of that selfish sort which the moment that it 
is deprived of hope sinks into indifference, or is converted into 
hatred. Belinda could not be his ; but, in the midst of the 
bitterest regret, he was supported by the consciousness of his 
own honour and generosity : he felt a noble species of delight 
in the prospect of promoting the happiness of the woman upon 
whom his fondest affections had been fixed ; and he rejoiced to 
feel that he had sufficient magnanimity to save a rival from 
ruin. He was even determined to make that rival his friend, 
notwithstanding the prepossession which, he clearly perceived, 
Mr. Vincent felt against him. 

' His jealousy will be extinguished the moment he knows 
my real situation,' said Clarence to himself. *He will be 
convinced that I have a soul incapable of envy ; and, if he 
suspect my love for Belinda, he will respect the strength of 
mind with which I can command my passions. I take it for 
granted that Mr. Vincent must possess a heart and under- 
standing such as I should desire in a friend, or he could never 
be — what he is to Belinda.' 

Full of these generous sentiments, Clarence waited with 
impatience for the hour when he might present himself at 
Mrs. Luttridge's. " He went there so early in the evening, that 
he found the drawing-room quite empty ; the company, who 
had been invited to dine, had not yet left the dining-room, and 
the servants had but just set the card-tables and lighted the 
candles. Mr. Hervey desired that nobody should be disturbed 
by his coming so early ; and, fortunately, Mrs. Luttridge was 
detained some minutes by Lady Newland's lingering glass of 
Madeira. In the meantime, Clarence executed his design. 
From his former observations, and from the hints that Lord 
Delacour had let fall, he suspected that there was sometimes 
in this house not only high play, but foul play : he recollected 
that once, when he played there at billiards, he had perceived 

429 



BELINDA 

that the table was not perfectly horizontal ; and it occurred to 
him, that perhaps the E O taljle might be so contrived as to 
put the fortunes of all who played at it in the power of the 
proprietor. Clarence had sufficient ingenuity to invent the 
method by which this might be done ; and he had the in- 
fallible means in his possession of detecting the fraud. The 
E O table was in an apartment adjoining to the drawing-room : 
he found his way to it ; and he discovered, beyond a possibility 
of doubt, that it was constructed for the purposes of fraud. 
His first impulse was to tell this immediately to Mr. Vincent, 
to put him on his guard ; but, upon reflection, he determined 
to keep his discovery to himself, till he was satisfied whether 
that gentleman had or had not any passion for play. 

* If he have,' thought Clarence, * it is of the utmost conse- 
quence to Miss Portman that he should early in hfe receive a 
shock that may leave an indelible impression upon his mind. 
To save him a few hours of remorse, I will not give up the 
power of doing him the most essential service. I will let him 
go on — if he be so inclined — to the very verge of ruin and 
despair : I will let him feel all the horrors of a gamester's fate, 
before I tell him that I have the means to save him. Mrs. 
Luttridge must, when I call upon her, refund whatever he may 
lose : she will not brave public shame — she cannot stand a 
public prosecution.' 

Scarcely had Clarence arranged his scheme, when he heard 
the voices of the ladies, who were coming upstairs. 

Mrs. Luttridge made her appearance, accompanied by a 
very pretty, modish, affected young lady, Miss Annabella 
Luttridge, her niece. Her little coquettish airs were lost upon 
Clarence Hervey, whose eye was intently fixed upon the door, 
watching for the entrance of Mr. Vincent. He was one of the 
dinner party, and he came up soon after the ladies. He 
seemed prepared for the sight of Mr. Hervey, to whom he 
bowed with a cold, haughty air ; and then addressed himself 
to Miss Annabella Luttridge, who showed the most obvious 
desire to attract his attention. 

From all that passed this evening, Mr. Hervey was led to 
suspect, notwithstanding the reasons which made it apparently 
improbable, that the fair Annabella was the secret cause of 
Mr. Vincent's frequent visits at her aunt's. It was natural 
that Clarence should be disposed to this opinion, from the 

430 



E O 

circumstances of his own situation. During three hours that 
he stayed at Mrs. Luttridge's, Mr. Vincent never joined any of 
the parties at play ; but, just as he was going away, he heard 
someone say — * How comes it, Vincent, that youVe been idle 
all night ? * This question revived Mr. Herve/s suspicions ; 
and, uncertain what report he should make to Lord Delacour, 
he resolved to defer making any, till he had farther oppor- 
tunities of judging. 

When Mr. Hervey asked himself how it was possible that 
the pupil of Mr. Percival could become a gamester, he forgot 
that Mr. Vincent had not been educated by his guardian ; that 
he had lived in the West Indies till he was eighteen ; and that 
he had only been under the care of Mr. Percival for a few 
years, after his habits and character were in a great measure 
formed. The taste for gambling he had acquired whilst he was 
a child ; but, as it was then confined to trifles, it had been passed 
over, as a thing of no consequence, a boyish folly, that would 
never grow up with him : his father used to see him, day after 
day, playing with eagerness at games of chance, with his negroes, 
or with the sons of neighbouring planters ; yet he was never 
alarmed : he was too intent upon making a fortune for his 
family to consider how they would spend it ; and he did not 
foresee that this boyish fault might be the means of his son's 
losing, in a few hours, the wealth which he had been many 
years amassing. When young Vincent came over to England, 
Mr. Percival had not immediate opportunities of discovering 
this particular foible in his ward ; but he perceived that in his 
mind there was that presumptuous belief in his special good 
fortune which naturally leads to the love of gambling. Instead 
of lecturing him, his guardian appealed to his understanding, 
and took opportunities of showing him the ruinous effects of 
high play in real life. Young Vincent was touched, and, as he 
thought, convinced ; but his emotion was stronger than his 
conviction — his feelings were always more powerful than his 
reason. His detestation of the selfish character of a gamester 
was felt and expressed with enthusiasm and eloquence ; and 
his indignation rose afterwards at the slightest hint that Ae 
might ever in future be tempted to become what he abhorred. 
Unfortunately he disdained prudence, as the factitious virtue of 
inferior minds : he thought that the /ee/mgs of a man of honour 
were to be his guide in the first and last appeal ; and for his 

431 



BELINDA 

conduct through life, as a man and as a gentleman, he proudly 
professed to trust to the sublime instinct of a good heart. His 
guardian's doubts of the infallibility and even of the existence 
of this moral instinct wounded Mr. Vincent's pride instead of 
alarming his understanding ; and he was rather eager than 
averse to expose himself to the danger, that he might prove 
his superiority to the temptation. How different are the 
feelings in different situations ! Yet often as this has been 
repeated, how difficult it is to impress the truth upon in- 
experienced, sanguine minds ! — ^Whilst young Vincent was 
immediately under his guardian's eye at Oakly Park, his safety 
from vice appeared to him inglorious ; he was impatient to 
sally forth into the world, confident rather of his innate than 
acquired virtue. 

When he first became acquainted with Mrs. Luttridge at 
Harrowgate, he knew that she was a professed gambler, and he 
despised the character ; yet without reflecting on the danger, or 
perhaps for the pleasure of convincing Mr. Percival that he was 
superior to it, he continued his visits. For some time he was 
a passive spectator. Billiards, however, was a game of address, 
not chance ; there was a billiard-table at Oakly Park, as well as 
at Mr. Luttridge's, and he had played with his guardian. Why, 
then, should he not play with Mr. Luttridge ? He did play : 
his skill was admired ; he betted, and his bets were successful : 
but he did not call this gaming, for the bets were not to any 
great amount, and it was only playing at billiards. Mr. Percival 
was delayed in town some weeks longer than usual, and he knew 
nothing of the manner in which his young friend spent his time. 
As soon as Mr. Vincent heard of his arrival at Oakly Park, he 
left half-finished his game at billiards ; and, fortunately for him, 
the charms of Belinda made him forget for some months that 
such a thing as a billiard-table existed. All that had happened at 
Mr. Luttridge's passed from his mind as a dream ; and whilst his 
heart was agitated by his new passion, he could scarcely believe 
that he had ever been interested by any other feelings. He was 
surprised when he accidentally recollected the eagerness with 
which he used to amuse himself in Mr. Luttridge's company ; but 
he was certain that all this was passed for ever ; and precisely 
because he was under the dominion of one strong passion, he 
thought he could never be under the dominion of another. Thus 
persisting in his disdain of reason as a moral guide, Mr. Vincent 

432 



E O 

thought, acted, and suffered as a man of feeling. Scarcely 
had Belinda left Oakly Park for one week when the ennui 
consequent to violent passion became insupportable ; and to 
console himself for her absence he flew to the bilHard-table. 
Emotion of some kind or other was become necessary to him ; 
he said that not to feel was not to live ; and soon the 
suspense, the anxiety, the hopes, the fears, the perpetual 
vicissitudes of a gamester's life, seemed to him almost as 
delightful as those of a lover's. Deceived by these appear- 
ances, Mrs. Luttridge thought that his affection for Belinda 
either was or might be conquered, and her hopes of obtaining 
his fortune for her niece AnnabeUa revived. As Mr. Vincent 
could not endure Mrs. Freke, she abstained, at her friend's 
particular desire, from appearing at her house whilst he was 
there, and Mrs. Luttridge interested him much in her own 
favour, by representing her indignation at Harriofs conduct to 
be such that it had occasioned a total breach in their friend- 
ship. Mrs. Freke's sudden departure from Harrowgate con- 
firmed the probability of this quarrel ; yet these two ladies 
were secretly leagued together in a design of breaking off Mr. 
Vincent's match with Belinda, against whom Mrs. Freke had 
vowed revenge. The anonymous letter, which she hoped 
would work her purpose, produced, however, an effect totally 
unexpected upon his generous mind : he did not guess the 
writer; but his indignation against such base accusations 
burst forth with a violence that astounded Mrs. Luttridge. 
His love for Belinda appeared ten times more enthusiastic 
than before — the moment she was accused, he felt himself her 
defender, as well as her lover. He was dispossessed of the 
evil spirit of gambling as if by a miracle ; and the billiard- 
table, and Mrs. Luttridge, and Miss AnnabeUa, vanished from 
his view. He breathed nothing but love ; he would ask no 
permission, he would wait for none from Belinda : he declared 
that instant he would set out in search of her, and he would 
tear that infamous letter to atoms in her presence ; he would 
show her how impossible suspicion was to his nature. The first 
violence of the hurricane Mrs. Luttridge could not stand, and 
thought not of opposing ; but whilst his horses and curricle 
were getting ready, she took such an affectionate leave of his 
dog Juba, and she protested so much that she and AnnabeUa 
should not know how to live without poor Juba, that Mr, 

2 F 433 



BELINDA 

Vincent, who was excessively fond of his dog, could not help 
sympathising in their sorrow : reasoning just as well as they 
wished, he extended his belief in their affection for this animal 
to friendship, if not love, for his master. He could not grant 
Mrs. Luttridge's earnest supplication to leave the dog behind 
him under her protection ; but he promised — and laid his 
hand upon his heart when he promised — that Juba should 
wait upon Mrs. Luttridge as soon as she went to town. 
This appointment being made. Miss Annabella permitted her- 
self to be somewhat consoled. It would be injustice to omit 
that she did all that could be done by a cambric handkerchief 
to evince delicate sensibility in this parting scene. Mrs. 
Luttridge also deserves her share of praise for the manner in 
which she reproved her niece for giving way to her feelings, 
and for the address with which she wished to Heaven that 
poor Annabella had the calm philosophic temper of which Miss 
Portman was, she understood, a most uncommon example. 
As Mr. Vincent drove toward London he reflected upon 

. these last words ; and he could not help thinking that if Belinda 

'> had more faults she would be more amiable. 

These thoughts were, however, driven from his mind, and 
scarcely left a trace behind them, when he once more saw and 
conversed with her. The dignity, sincerity, and kindness 
which she showed the evening that he put the anonymous 
letter into her hands charmed and touched him, and his real 
feelings and his enthusiasm conspired to make him believe 
that his whole happiness depended on her smiles. The 
confession which she made to him of her former attachment 
to Clarence Hervey, as it raised in Vincent's mind strong 
emotions of jealousy, increased his passion as much as it piqued 
his pride ; and she appeared in a new and highly interesting light 
when he discovered that the coldness of manner which he had 
attributed to want of sensibility arose probably from its excess 
— that her heart should have been preoccupied was more 
tolerable to him than the belief of her settled indifference. 
He was so intent upon these delightful varieties in his love for 
Belinda that it was not till he had received a reproachful note 
from Mrs. Luttridge, to remind him of his promised visit with 
Juba, that he could prevail upon himself to leave Twickenham, 
even for a few hours. Lady Delacour's hatred or fear of Juba, 
which he accidentally mentioned to Miss Annabella, appeared 

434 



E O 

to her and to her aunt * the most extraordinary thing upon 
earth ' ; and when it was contrasted with their excessive fond- 
ness, it seemed to him indeed unaccountable. From pure 
consideration for her ladyship's nerves, Mrs. Luttridge peti- 
tioned Vincent to leave the dog with her, that Helena might 
not be in such imminent danger from * the animal's monstrous 
jaws.' The petition was granted ; and as the petitioners fore- 
saw, Juba became to them a most useful auxiliary. Juba's 
master called daily to see him, and sometimes when he came 
in the morning Mrs. Luttridge was not at home, so that his 
visits were repeated in the evening ; and the evening in London 
is what in other places is called the night. Mrs. Luttridge's 
nights could not be passed without deep play. The sight of 
the E O table at first shocked Mr. Vincent : he thought of Mr. 
Percival, and he turned away from it ; but to his active social 
disposition it was extremely irksome to stand idle and unin- 
terested where all were busy and eager in one common pursuit ; 
to his generous temper it seemed ungentlemanlike to stand by 
the silent censor of the rest of the company ; and when he 
considered of how little importance a few hundreds or even 
thousands could be to a man of his large fortune, he could not 
help feeling that it was sordid, selfish, avaricious, to dread their 
possible loss ; and thus social spirit, courage, generosity, all 
conspired to carry our man of feeling to the gaming-table. 
Once there, his ruin was inevitable. Mrs. Luttridge, whilst 
she held his doom in her power, hesitated only whether it 
would be more her interest to marry him to her niece, or to 
content herself with his fortune. His passion for Belinda, 
which she saw had been by some means or other increased, in 
spite of the anonymous letter, gave her little hopes of Anna- 
bella's succeeding, even with the assistance of Juba and delicate 
sensibility. So the aunt, careless of her niece's disappointment, 
determined that Mr. Vincent should be her victim; and sensible 
that she must not give him time for reflection, she hurried him 
on, till, in the course of a few evenings spent at the E O table, 
he lost not only thousands, but tens of thousands. One lucky 
night, she assured him, would set all to rights ; the run could 
not always be against him, and fortune must change in his 
favour, if he tried her with sufficient perseverance. 

The horror, the agony of mind, which he endured at this 
sudden ruin which seemed impending over him — the recoUec- 

435 



BELINDA 

tion of Belinda, of Mr. Percival, almost drove him to distraction. 
He retreated from the E O table one night, swearing that he 
never would hazard another guinea. But his ruin was not yet 
complete — ^he had thousands yet to lose, and Mrs. Luttridge 
would not thus relinquish her prey. She persuaded him to try 
his fortune once more. She now suffered him to regain 
courage, by winning back some of his own money. His mind 
was relieved from the sense of inunediate danger ; he rejoiced 
to be saved from the humiliation of confessing his losses to 
Mr. Percival and Belinda. The next day he saw her with 
unusual pleasure, and this was the very morning Clarence 
Hervey paid his visit. The imprudence of Lady Delacour, 
joined perhaps to his own consciousness that he had a secret 
fault, which ought to lower him in the esteem of his mistress, 
made him misinterpret everything that passed — his jealousy 
was excited in the most sudden and violent manner. He flew 
from Lady Delacour's to Mrs. Luttridge's — he was soothed 
and flattered by the apparent kindness with which he was re- 
ceived by Annabella and her aunt ; but after dinner, when one 
of the servants whispered to Mrs. Luttridge, who sat next to 
him, that Mr. Clarence Hervey was above stairs, he gave such 
a start, that the fair Annabella's lap did not escape a part of 
the bumper of wine which he was going to drink to her health. 
In the confusion and apologies which this accident occasioned, 
Mrs. Luttridge had time to consider what might be the cause 
of the start, and she combined her suspicions so quickly and 
judiciously that she guessed the truth — that he feared to be 
seen at the £ O table by a person who might find it for his 
interest to tell the truth to Belinda Portman. * Mr. Vincent,' 
said she, in a low voice, < I have such a terrible headache, that 
I am fit for nothing — I am not up to Y. O to-night, so you 
must wait for your revenge till to-morrow.* 

Mr. Vincent was heartily glad to be relieved from his 
engagement, and he endeavoured to escape Clarence's 
suspicions, by devoting his whole time this evening to Anna- 
bella, not in the least apprehensive that Mr. Hervey would 
return the next night. Mr. Vincent was at the E O table at 
the usual hour, for he was excessively anxious to regain what 
he had lost, not so much for the sake of the money, which he 
could afford to lose, but lest the defalcation in his fortune 
should lead Mr. Percival to the knowledge of the means which 

436 



E O 

had occasioned it. He could not endure, after his high 
vaunts, to see himself humbled by his rash confidence in him- 
self, and he secretly vowed, that if he could but reinstate himself, 
by one night's good luck, he would forever quit the society of 
gamblers. A few months before this time, he would have 
scorned the idea of concealing any part of his conduct, any one 
of his actions, from his best friend, Mr. Percival ; but his pride 
now reconciled him to the meanness of concealment ; and here, 
the acuteness of his feelings was to his own mind an excuse for 
dissimulation : so fallacious is moral instinct, unenlightened or 
uncontrolled by reason and religion. 

Mr. Vincent was disappointed in his hopes of regaining 
what he had lost. This was not the fortunate night, which 
Mrs. Luttridge's prognostics had vainly taught him to expect : 
he played on, however, with all the impetuosity of his natural 
temper ; his judgment forsook him ; he scarcely knew what he 
said or did ; and, in the course of a few hours, he was worked 
up to such a pitch of insanity, that in one desperate moment he 
betted nearly all that he was worth in the world — and lost I 
He stood like one stupefied : the hum of voices scarcely reached 
his ear — ^he saw figures moving before him ; but he did not 
distinguish who or what they were. 

Supper was announced, and the room emptied fast, whilst 
he remained motionless leaning on the £ O table. He was 
roused by Mrs. Luttridge saying, as she passed, * Don't you sup 
to-night, Mr. Hervey ? ' — Vincent looked up, and saw Clarence 
Hervey opposite to him. His countenance instantly changed, 
and the lightning of anger flashed through the gloom of despair : 
he uttered not a syllable ; but his looks said, * How is this, sir ? 
Here again to-night to watch me ? — to enjoy my ruin ? — to be 
ready to carry the first news of it to Belinda ? ' 

At this last thought, Vincent struck his closed hand with 
violence against his forehead ; and rushing by Mr. Hervey, who 
in vain attempted to speak to him, he pressed into the midst of 
the crowd on the stairs, and let himself be carried along with 
them into the supper-room. At supper he took his usual seat 
between Mrs. Luttridge and the fair Annabella ; and, as if de- 
termined to brave the observing eyes of Clarence Hervey, who 
was at the same table, he affected extravagant gaiety ; he ate, 
drank, talked, and laughed, more than any of" the company. 
Toward the end of the supper, his dog, who was an inmate at 

437 



BELINDA 

Mrs. Luttridge's, licked his hand to put him in mind that he 
had given him nothing to eat. 

* Drink, Juba 1 — drink, and never have done, boy ! ' cried 
Vincent, holding a bumper of wine to the dog's mouth ; * he's 
the only dog I ever saw taste wine.' Then snatching up some 
of the flowers, which ornamented the table, he swore that Juba 
should henceforward be called Anacreon, and that he deserved 
to be crowned with roses by the hand of beauty. The fair 
Annabella instantly took a hothouse rose from her bosom, and 
assisted in making the garland, with which she crowned the 
new Anacreon. Insensible to his honours, the dog, who was 
extremely hungry, turned suddenly to Mrs. Luttridge, by whom 
he had, till this night, regularly been fed with the choicest 
morsels, and lifting up his huge paw, laid it, as he had been 
wont to do, upon her arm. She shook it off: he, knowing 
nothing of the change in his master's affairs, laid the paw again 
upon her arm ; and with that familiarity to which he had long 
been encouraged, raised his head almost close to the lady's 
cheek. 

* Down, Juba ! — down, sir, down ! ' cried Mrs. Luttridge, in 
a sharp voice. 

* Down, Juba I — down, sir ! ' repeated Mr. Vincent, in a tone 
of bitter feeling, all his assumed gaiety forsaking him at this 
instant : * Down, Juba ! — down, sir, down I ' as low as your 
master, thought he ; and pushing back his chair, he rose from 
table, and precipitately left the room. 

Little notice was taken of his retreat ; the chairs closed in ; 
and the gap which his vacant place left was visible but for a 
moment : the company were as gay as before ; the fair Anna- 
bella smiled with a grace as attractive ; and Mrs. Luttridge 
exulted in the success of her schemes — whilst her victim was in 
the agonies of despair. 

Clarence Hervey, who had watched every change of Vincent's 
countenance, saw the agony of soul with which he rose from 
the table, and quitted the room : he suspected his purpose, and 
followed him immediately ; but Mr. Vincent had got out of the 
house before he could overtake him ; which way he was gone 
no one could tell, for no one had seen him ; the only information 
he could gain was, that he might possibly be heard of at Nerot's 
Hotel, or at Governor Montford's, in Portland Place. The 
hotel was but a few yards from Mrs. Luttridge's. Clarence 

438 



E O 

went there directly. He asked for Mr. Vincent. One of the 
waiters said, that he was not yet come in ; but another called 
out, * Mr. Vincent, sir, did you say ? I have just shown him 
up to his room.' 

* Which is the room ? — I must see him instantly,' cried 
Hervey. 

*Not to-night — you can't see him now, sir. Mr. Vincent 
won't let you in, I can assure you, sir. I went up myself three 
minutes ago, with some letters, that came whilst he was away, 
but he would not let me in. I heard him double-lock the door, 
and he swore terribly. I can't go up again at this time o'night 
— for my life I dare not, sir.' 

* Where is his own man ? — Has Mr. Vincent any servant 
here ? — Mr. Vincent's man ! ' cried Clarence ; * let me see him ! ' 

* You can't, sir. Mr. Vincent has just sent his black, the 
only servant he has here, out on some message. Indeed, sir, 
there's no use in going up,' continued the waiter, as Clarence 
sprang up two or three stairs at once : * Mr. Vincent has desired 
nobody may disturb him. I give you my word, sir, he'll be very 
angry ; and, besides, 'twould be to no purpose, for he'll not un- 
lock the door.' 

* Is there but one door to the room?' said Mr. Hervey; and, 
as he asked the question, he pulled a guinea out of his pocket, 
and touched the waiter's hand with it. 

* Oh, now I recollect — yes, sir, there's a private door through 
a closet : may be that mayn't be fastened.' 

Clarence put the guinea into the waiter's hand, who instantly 
showed him the way up the back staircase to the door that 
opened into Mr. Vincent's bed-chamber. 

* Leave me now,' whispered he, * and make no noise.' 

The man withdrew ; and as Mr. Hervey went close to the 
concealed door, to try if it was fastened, he distinctly heard a 
pistol cocked. The door was not fastened : he pushed it softly 
open, and saw the unfortunate man upon his knees, the pistol 
in his hand, his eyes looking up to heaven. Clarence was in 
one moment behind him ; and, seizing hold of the pistol, he 
snatched it from Vincent's grasp tt^ith so much calm presence 
of mind and dexterity, that, although the pistol was cocked, it 
did not go off. 

* Mr. Hervey ! ' exclaimed Vincent, starting up. Astonish- 
ment overpowered all other sensations. But the next instant 

439 



■K-^ 



Seizing koid of tfu fistel, tu snatched it /rtm V- 



E O 

recovering the power of speech, * Is this the conduct of a 
gentleman, Mr. Hervey — of a man of honour,' cried he, * thus 
to intrude upon my privacy ; to be a spy upon my actions ; to 
triumph in my ruin ; to witness my despair ; to rob me of the 

only * 

He looked wildly at the pistol which Clarence held in his 
hand ; then snatching up another, which lay upon the table, he 
continued, * You are my enemy — I know it ; you are my rival ; 
I know it ; Belinda loves you ! Nay, affect not to start — this 
is no time for dissimulation — Belinda loves you — ^you know it : 
for her sake, for your own, put me out of the world — put me 
out of torture. It shall not be called murder : it shall be called 
a duel. You have been a spy upon my actions — I demand 
satisfaction. If you have one spark of honour or of courage 
within you, Mr. Hervey, show it now — fight me, sir, openly as 
man to man, rival to rival, enemy to enemy — fire.' 

* If you fire upon me, you will repent it,' replied Clarence 
calmly ; * for I am not your enemy — I am not your rival.' 

*You are/ interrupted Vincent, raising his voice to the 
highest pitch of indignation : * you are my rival, though you 
dare not avow it I The denial is base, false, unmanly. O 
Belinda, is this the being you prefer to me f Gamester — 
wretch, as I am, my soul never stooped to falsehood I Treachery 
I abhor; courage, honour, and a heart worthy of Belinda, I 
possess. I beseech you, sir,' continued he, addressing himself, 
in a tremulous tone of contempt, to Mr. Hervey, * I beseech you, 
sir, to leave me to my own feelings — and to myself.' 

* You are not yourself at this moment, and I cannot leave 
you to such mistaken feelings,' replied Hervey : * command 
yourself for a moment, and hear me ; use your reason, and you 
will soon be convinced that I am your friend.' 

* My friend I ' 

* Your friend. For what purpose did I come here ? to snatch 
this pistol from your hand ? If it were my interest, my wish, 
that you were out of the world, why did I prevent you from 
destroying yourself? Do you think tAa^ the action of an enemy ? 
Use your reason.' 

* I cannot,' said Vincent, striking his forehead ; ' I know 
not what to think — I am not master of myself. I conjure you, 
sir, for your own sake, to leave me.' 

* For my own sake ! ' repeated Hervey, disdainfully : * I am 

441 



BELINDA 

not thinking of myself; nor can anything you have said pro- 
voke me from my purpose. My purpose is to save you from 
ruin, for the sake of a woman, whom, though I am no longer 
your rival, I have loved longer, if not better, than you have.' 

There was something so open in Herve/s countenance, such 
a strong expression of truth in his manner, that it could not be 
resisted, and Vincent, in an altered voice, exclaimed, *You 
acknowledge that you have loved Belinda — and could you 
cease to love her ? Impossible I — And, loving her, must you 
not detest me ? ' 

* No,' said Clarence, holding out his hand to him ; ' I wish 
to be your friend. I have not the baseness to wish to deprive 
others of happiness because I cannot enjoy it myself In one 
word, to put you at ease with me for ever, I have no pretensions, 
I can have none, to Miss Portman. I am engaged to another 
woman — in a few days you will hear of my marriage.' 

Mr. Vincent threw the pistol from him, and gave his hand 
to Hervey. 

* Pardon what I said to you just now,' cried he ; * I knew 
not what I said — I spoke in the agony of despair : your purpose 
is most generous — but it is in vain — you come too late — I am 
ruined, past all hope.' 

He folded his arms, and his eyes reverted involuntarily to 
his pistols. 

*The misery that you have this night experienced,' said 
Mr. Hervey, *was necessary to the security of your future 
happiness.' 

* Happiness!' repeated Vincent; 'happiness — there is no 
happiness left for me. My doom is fixed — fixed by my own 
folly — ^my own rash, headstrong folly. Madman that I was, 
what could tempt me to the gaming-table ? Oh I if I could 
recall but a few days, a few hours of my existence 1 But re- 
morse is vain — prudence comes too late. Do you know,' said 
he, fixing his eyes upon Hervey, * do you know that I am a 
beggar ? that I have not a farthing left upon earth ? Go to 
Belinda ; tell her so : tell her, that if she had ever the slightest 
regard for me, I deserve it no longer. Tell her to forget, 
despise, detest me. Give her joy that she has escaped having 
a gamester for a husband.' 

* I will,' said Clarence, * I will, if you please, tell her what I 
believe to be true, that the agony you have felt this night, the 

442 



E O 

dear-bought experience you have had, will be for ever a 
warning.' 

* A warning ! ' interrupted Vincent : * Oh, that it could yet 
be useful to me ! — But I tell you it comes too late — nothing 
can save me.' 

* / can,' said Mr. Hervey. * Swear to me, for Belinda's 
sake — solemnly swear to me, that you will never more trust 
your happiness and hers to the hazard of a die — swear that 
you will never more, directly or indirectly, play at any game of 
chance, and I will restore to you the fortune that you have lost' 

Mr. Vincent stood as if suspended between ecstasy and 
despair : he dared not trust his senses : with a fervent and 
solemn adjuration he made the vow that was required of him ; 
and Clarence then revealed to him the secret of the E O 
table. 

* When Mrs. Luttridge knows that I have it in my power to 
expose her to public shame, she will instantly refund all that 
she has iniquitously won from you. Even among gamblers she 
would be blasted for ever by this discovery : she knows it, and 
if she dared to brave public opinion, we have then a sure 
resource in the law — prosecute her. The laws of honour, as 
well as the laws of the land, will support the prosecution. But 
she will never let the affair go into a court of justice. I will 
see her early, as early as I can to-morrow, and put you out of 
suspense.' 

* Most generous of human beings ! ' exclaimed Vincent ; * I 
cannot express to you what I feel ; but your own heart, your 
own approbation ' 

* Farewell, good night,' interrupted Clarence ; * I see that I 
have made a friend — I was determined that Belinda's husband 
should be my friend — I have succeeded beyond my hopes. And 
now I will intrude no longer,' said he, as he closed the door 
after him. His sensations at this instant were more delightful 
even than those of the man he had relieved from the depth of 
despair. How wisely has Providence made the benevolent and 
generous passions the most pleasurable ! 



443 



BELINDA 



CHAPTER XXIX 

A JEW 

In the silence of the night, when the hurry of action was over, 
and the enthusiasm of generosity began to subside, the words, 
which had escaped from Mr. Vincent in the paroxysm of despair 
and rage — ^the words, ^Belinda loves you^ — recurred to Clarence 
Hervey ; and it required all his power over himself to banish 
the sound from his ear, and the idea from his mind. He 
endeavoured to persuade himself that these words were dictated 
merely by sudden jealousy, and that there could be no real 
foundation for the assertion : perhaps this belief was a necessary 
support to his integrity. He reflected, that, at all events, his 
engagement with Virginia could not be violated ; his proffered 
services to Mr. Vincent could not be withdrawn : he was 
firm and consistent. Before two o'clock the next day, Vincent 
received from Clarence this short note : 

' Enclosed is Mrs. Luttridge's acknowledgment, that she has 
no claims upon you, in consequence of what passed last night. 
I said nothing about the money she had previously won, as I 
imderstand you have paid it. 

* The lady fell into fits, but it would not do. The husband 
attempted to bully me ; I told him I should be at his service, 
after he had made the whole affair public, by calling you out 

* I would have seen you myself this morning, but that I 
am engaged with lawyers and marriage settlements. — ^Yours 
sincerely, Clarence Hervey.* 

Overjoyed at the sight of Mrs. Luttridge's acknowledgment, 
Vincent repeated his vow never more to hazard himself in her 
dangerous society. He was impatient to see Belinda ; and, full 
of generous and grateful sentiments, in his first moment of joy, 
he determined to conceal nothing from her ; to make at once 
the confession of his own imprudence and the eulogium of 
Clarence Hervey*s generosity. He was just setting out for 
Twickenham, when he was sent for by his uncle. Governor 

444 



A JEW 

Montford, who had business to settle with him, relative to his 
West India estates. He spent the remainder of the morning 
with his uncle ; and there he received a charming letter from 
Belinda — that letter which she had written and sent whilst 
Lady Delacour was reading Clarence Herve/s packet. It 
would have cured Vincent of jealousy, even if he had not, in 
the interim, seen Mr. Hervey, and learnt from him the news 
of his approaching marriage. Miss Portman, at the conclusion 
of her letter, informed him that Lady Delacour purposed being 
in Berkeley Square the next day ; that they were to spend 
a week in town, on account of Mrs. Margaret Delacour, who 
had promised her ladyship a visit ; and to go to Twickenham 
would be a formidable journey to an infirm old lady, who 
seldom stirred out of her house. 

Whatever displeasure Lady Delacour felt towards her friend 
Belinda, on account of her coldness to Mr. Hervey, and her 
steadiness to Mr. Vincent, had by this time subsided. Angry 
people, who express their passion, as it has been justly said, 
always speak worse than they think. This was usually the 
case with her ladyship. 

The morning after they arrived in town, she came into 
Belinda's room, with an air of more than usual sprightliness 
and satisfaction. * Great news ! — Great news ! — Extraordinary 
news ! — But it is very imprudent to excite your expectations, 
my dear Belinda. Pray, did you hear a wonderful noise in the 
square a little while ago ? ' 

<Yes, I thought I heard a great bustle; but Marriott 
appeased my curiosity, by saying that it was only a battle 
between two dogs.' 

* It is well if this battle between two dogs do not end in a 
duel between two men,' said Lady Delacour. 

* This prospect of mischief seems to have put your ladyship 
in wonderfully good spirits,' said Belinda, smiling. 

* But what do you think I have heard of Mr. Vincent ? ' 
continued Lady Delacour : ' that Miss Annabella Luttridge is 
dying for love of him — or of his fortune. Knowing, as I do, 
the vanity of mankind, I suppose that your Mr. Vincent, all 
perfect as he is, was flattered by the little coquette ; and 
perhaps he condescends to repay her in the same coin. I 
take it for granted — ^for I always fill up the gaps in a story my 
own way — I take it for granted that Mr. Vincent got into some 

445 



BELINDA 

entanglement with her, and that this has been the cause of 
the quarrel with the aunt. That there has been a quarrel is 
certain, for your friend Juba told Marriott so. His massa 
swore that he would never go to Mrs. Luttridge's again ; and 
this morning he took the decisive measure of sending to re- 
quest that his dog might be returned. Juba went for his 
namesake. Miss Annabella Luttridge was the person who 
delivered up the dog ; and she desired the black to tell his 
master, with her compliments, that Juba's collar was rather 
too tight ; and she begged that he would not fail to take it 
off as soon as he could. Perhaps, my dear, you are as simple 
as the poor negro, and suspect no finesse in this message. 
Miss Luttridge, aware that the faithful fellow was too much 
in your interests to be either persuaded or bribed to carry a 
billet-doux from any other lady to his master, did not dare to 
trust him upon this occasion ; but she had the art to make 
him carry her letter without his knowing it. Colin maillard^ 
vulgarly called blind man^s buff^ was, some time ago, a favourite 
play amongst the Parisian ladies : now hide and seek will be 
brought into fashion, I suppose, by the fair Annabella. Judge 
of her talents for the game by this instance : — she hid her 
billet-doux within the lining of Juba's collar. The dog, un- 
conscious of his dignity as an ambassador, or rather as a 
chargd d^ affaires^ set out on his way home. As he was cross- 
ing Berkeley Square he was met by Sir Philip Baddely and 
his dog. The baronet's insolent favourite bit the black's heels. 
Juba, the dog, resented the injury immediately, and a furious 
combat ensued. In the height of the battle Juba's collar fell 
off. Sir Philip Baddely espied the paper that was sewed to 
the lining, and seized upon it immediately ; the negro caught 
hold of it at the same instant : the baronet swore \ the black 
struggled ; the baronet knocked him down. The great dog 
left his canine antagonist that moment, flew at your baronet, 
and would have eaten him up at three mouthfuls, if Sir Philip 
had not made good his retreat to Dangerfield's circulating 
library. The negro's head was terribly cut by the sharp point 
of a stone, and his ankle was sprained ; but, as he has just 
told me, he did not feel this till afterward. He started up, 
and pursued his master's enemy. Sir Philip was actually 
reading Miss Luttridge's billet-doux aloud when the black 
entered the library. He reclaimed his master's property with 

446 



A JEW 

great intrepidity ; and a gentleman who was present took his 
part immediately. 

* In the meantime, Lord Delacour, who had been looking 
at the battle from our breakfast-room window, determined to 
go over to Dangerfield's, to see what was the matter, and how 
all this would end. He entered the library just as the gentle- 
man who had volunteered in favour of poor Juba was disputing 
with Sir Philip. The bleeding negro told my lord, in as plain 
words as he could, the cause of the dispute ; and Lord 
Delacour, who, to do him justice, is a man of honour, joined 
instantly in his defence. The baronet thought proper at length 
to submit ; and he left the field of battle, without having any- 
thing to say for himself but — " Damme ! — very extraordinary, 
damme ! " — or words to that effect, 

*Now, Lord Delacour, besides being a man of honour, is 
also a man of humanity. I know that I cannot oblige you 
more, my dear Belinda, than by seasoning my discourse with 
a little conjugal flattery. My lord was concerned to see the 
poor black writhing in pain ; and with the assistance of the 
gentleman who had joined in his defence, he brought Juba 
across the square to our house. Guess for what : — to try upon 
the strained ankle an infallible quack balsam recommended to 
him by the Dowager Lady Boucher. I was in the hall when 
they brought the poor fellow in : Marriott was called. " Mrs. 
Marriott," cried my lord, " pray let us have Lady Boucher's 
infallible balsam — this instant ! " Had you but seen the eager- 
ness of face, or heard the emphasis, with which he said 
^^ infallible balsam " — you must let me laugh at the recollection. 
One human smile must pass, and be forgiven.' 

* The smile may be the more readily forgiven,- said Belinda, 
* since I am sure you are conscious that it reflected almost as 
much upon yourself as upon Lord Delacour.* 

* Why, yes ; belief in a quack doctor is full as bad as belief 
in a quack balsam, I allow. Your observation is so malicious, 
because so just, that to punish you for it, I will not tell you the 
remainder of my story for a week to come ; and I assure you 
that the best part of it I have left untold. To return to our 
friend Mr. Vincent : — could you but know what reasons I 
have, at this instant, for wishing him in Jamaica, you would 
acknowledge that I am truly candid in confessing that I believe 
my suspicions about E O were unfounded; and I am truly 

447 



BELINDA 

generous in admitting that you are right to treat him with 
justice.' 

This last enigmatical sentence Belinda could not prevail 
upon Lady Delacour to explain. 

In the evening Mr. Vincent made his appearance. Lady 
Delacour immediately attacked him with raillery, on the subject 
of the fair Annabella. He was rejoiced to perceive that her 
suspicions took this turn, and that nothing relative to the 
transaction in which Clarence Hervey had been engaged had 
transpired. Vincent wavered in his resolution to confess the 
truth to Belinda. Though he had determined upon this in the 
first moment of joyful enthusiasm, yet the delay of four-and- 
twenty hours had made a material change in his feelings ; his 
most virtuous resolves were always rather the effect of sudden 
impulse than of steady principle. But when the tide of passion 
had swept away the landmarks, he had no method of ascertain- 
ing the boundaries of right and wrong. Upon the present 
occasion his love for Belinda confounded all his moral calcula- 
tions : one moment, his feelings as a man of honour forbade 
him to condescend to the meanness of dissimulation ; but the 
next instant his feelings as a lover prevailed ; and he satisfied 
his conscience by the idea that, as his vow must preclude all 
danger of his return to the gaming-table in future, it would 
only be creating an unnecessary alarm in Belinda's mind to 
speak to her of his past imprudence. His generosity at first 
revolted from the thought of suppressing those praises of 
Clarence Hervey, which had been so well deserved; but his 
jealousy returned, to combat his first virtuous impulse. He 
considered that his own inferiority must by comparison appear 
more striking to his mistress ; and he sophistically persuaded 
himself that h would be for her happiness to conceal the merits 
of a rival, to whom she could never be united. In this vacillat- 
ing state of mind he continued during the greatest part of the 
evening. About half an hour before he took his leave, Lady 
Delacour was called out of the room by Mrs. Marriott. Left 
alone with Belinda, his embarrassment increased, and the un- 
suspecting kindness of her manner was to him the most bitter 
reproach. He stood in silent agony whilst in a playful tone 
she smiled and said, 

* Where are your thoughts, Mr. Vincent ? If I were of a 

jealous temper, I should say with the fair Annabella ' 

448 



A JEW 

*You would say wrong, then,' replied Mr. Vincent, in a 
constrained voice. He was upon the point of telling the truth ; 
but to gain a reprieve of a few minutes, he entered into a 
defence of his conduct towards Miss Luttridge. 

The sudden return of Lady Delacour relieved him from his 
embarrassment, and they conversed only on general subjects 
during the remainder of the evening ; and he at last departed, 
secretly rejoicing that he was, as he fancied, under the necessity 
of postponing his explanation ; he even thought of suppressing 
the history of his transaction with Mrs. Luttridge. He knew 
that his secret was safe with Clarence Hervey : Mrs. Luttridge 
would be silent for her own sake ; and neither Lady Delacour 
nor Belinda had any connection with her society. 

A few days afterward, Mr. Vincent went to Gray, the 
jeweller, for some trinkets which he had bespoken. Lord 
Delacour was there, speaking about the diamond ring, which 
Gray had promised to dispose of for him. Whilst his lordship 
and Mr. Vincent were busy about their own affairs. Sir Philip 
Baddely and Mr. Rochfort came into the shop. Sir Philip and 
Mr. Vincent had never before met. Lord Delacour, to prevent 
him from getting into a quarrel about a lady who was so little 
worth fighting for as Miss Annabella Luttridge, had positively 
refused to tell Mr. Vincent what he knew of the affair, or to let 
him know the name of the gentleman who was concerned in it. 

The shopman addressed Mr. Vincent by his name, and 
immediately Sir Philip whispered to Rochfort, that Mr. Vincent 
was * the master of the blacki* Vincent, who unluckily over- 
heard him, instantly asked Lord Delacour if that was the 
gentleman who had behaved so ill to his servant ? Lord 
Delacour told him that it was now of no consequence to inquire. 
* If,' said his lordship, * either of these gentlemen choose to 
accost you, I shall think you do rightly to retort ; but for 
Heaven's sake do not begin the attack ! ' 

Vincent's impetuosity was not to be restrained ; he de- 
manded from Sir Philip, whether he was the person who had 
beaten his servant ? Sir Philip readily obliged him with an 
answer in the affirmative ; and the consequence was the loss 
of a finger to the baronet, and a wound in the side to Mr. 
Vincent, which, though it did not endanger his life, yet con- 
fined him to his room for several days. The impatience of 
his mind increased his fever, and retarded his recovery. 

2 G 449 



BELINDA 

When Belinda's first alarm for Mr. Vincent's safety was 
over, she anxiously questioned Lord Delacour as to the 
particulars of all that had passed between Mr. Vincent and 
Sir Philip, that she might judge of the manner in which her 
lover had conducted himself. Lord Delacour, who was a man 
of strict truth, was compelled to confess that Mr. Vincent 
had shown more spirit than temper, and more courage than 
prudence. Lady Delacour rejoiced to perceive that this 
account made Belinda uncommonly serious. 

Mr. Vincent now thought himself sufficiently recovered to 
leave his room ; his physicians, indeed, would have kept him 
prisoner a few days longer, but he was too impatient of re- 
straint to listen to their counsels. 

* Juba, tell the doctor, when he comes, that you could not 
keep me at home ; and that is all that is necessary to be said.' 

He had now summoned courage to acknowledge to Belinda 
all that had happened, and was proceeding, with difficulty, 
downstairs, when he was suddenly struck by the sound of a 
voice which he little expected at this moment ; a voice he had 
formerly been accustomed to hear with pleasure, but now it 
smote him to the heart : — it was the voice of Mr. Percival. 
For the first time in his life, he wished to deny himself to his 
friend. The recollection of the E O table, of Mrs. Luttridge^ 
of Mr. Percival as his guardian, and of all the advice he had 
heard from him as his friend, rushed upon his mind at this 
instant ; conscious and ashamed, he shrunk back, precipit- 
ately returned to his own room, and threw himself into a chair, 
breathless with agitation. He listened, expecting to hear Mr. 
Percival coming upstairs, and endeavoured to compose him- 
self, that he might not betray, by his own agitation, all that he 
wished most anxiously to conceal. After waiting for some 
time, he rang the bell, to make inquiries. The waiter told 
him that a Mr. Percival had asked for him ; but, having been 
told by his black that he was just gone out, the gentleman 
being, as he said, much hurried, had left a note; for an 
answer to which he would call at eight o'clock in the evening. 
Vincent was glad of this short reprieve. * Alas ! ' thought he, 
* how changed am I, when I fear to meet my best friend 1 To 
what has this one fatal propensity reduced me ! ' 

He was Httle aware of the new difficulties that awaited him. 

]Mr. Percival's note was as follows : — 

450 



A JEW 

*My dear Friend! — Am not I a happy man, to find a 
friend in my ci-devant "^dxdi ? But I have no time for sentiment ; 
nor does it become the character, in which I am now writing to 
you — that of a dun. You are so rich, and so prudent, that the 
word in capital letters cannot frighten you. Lady Anne's cousin, 
poor Mr. Carysfort, is dead. I am guardian to his boys ; they 
are but ill provided for. I have fortunately obtained a partner- 
ship in a good house for the second son. Ten thousand 
pounds are wanting to establish him — we cannot raise the 
money amongst us, without dunning poor Mr. Vincent. En- 
closed is your bond for the purchase-money of the little estate 
you bought from me last summer. I know that you have 
double the sum we want in ready money — so I make no 
ceremony. Let me have the ten thousand this evening, if you 
can, as I wish to leave town as soon as possible. — Yours most 
sincerely, Henry Percival.' 

Now Mr. Vincent had lost, and had actually paid to Mrs. 
Luttridge, the ready money which had been destined to dis- 
charge his debt to Mr. Percival : he expected fresh remit- 
tances from the West Indies in the course of a few weeks ; 
but, in the meantime, he must raise this money immediately : 
this he could only do by having recourse to Jews — a desperate 
expedient. The Jew, to whom he applied, no sooner dis- 
covered that Mr. Vincent was under a necessity of having this 
sum before eight o'clock in the evening than he became ex- 
orbitant in his demands ; and the more impatient this un- 
fortunate young man became, the more difficulties he raised. 
At last, a bargain was concluded between them, in which 
Vincent knew that he was grossly imposed upon ; but to this 
he submitted, for he had no alternative. The Jew promised 
to bring him ten thousand pounds at five o'clock in the 
evening, but it was half after seven before he made his appear- 
ance ; and then he was so dilatory and circumspect, in reading 
over and signing the bonds, and in completing the formalities 
of the transaction, that before the money was actually in 
Vincent's possession, one of the waiters of the hotel knocked 
at the door to let him know that Mr. Percival was coming up- 
stairs. Vincent hurried the Jew into an adjoining apartment, 
and bid him wait there, till he should come to finish the 
business. Though totally unsuspicious, Mr. Percival could 

451 



BELINDA 

not help being struck with the perturbation in which he found 
his young (Hend. Vincent immediately began to talk of the 
duel, and his friend was led to conclude that his anxiety arose 
from this affair. He endeavoured to put him at ease by 
changing the conversation. He spoke of the business which 
brought him to town, and of the young man whom he was 
going to place with a banker. 



He fltff a dUatmj and drcvtitsfecl, in rtadin^ trmr- and ngaing tht hemit- 

' 1 hope,' said he, observing that Vincent grew more 
embarrassed, ' that my dunning you for this money is not 
really inconvenient.' 

' Mot in the least — not in the least. I have the money 
ready — in a few moments— if you'll be so good as to wait here 
— 1 have the money ready in the next room.' 

At this instant a loud noise was heard — the raised voices 

of two people quarrelling. It was Juba, the black, and 

45^ 



A JEW 

Solomon, the Jew. Mr. Vincent had sent Juba out of the 
way, on some errand, whilst he had been transacting his 
affairs with the Jew ; but the black, having executed the 
commission on which he had been sent, returned, and went 
into his master's bedchamber, to read at his leisure a letter 
which he had just received from his wife. He did not at first 
see the Jew, and he was spelling out the words of his wife's 
letter. 

* My dear Juba, 

* I take this op-por-tu — ' 

— m'ty he would have said ; but the Jew, who had held his 
breath in to avoid discovery, till he could hold it no longer, 
now drew it so loud, that Juba started, looked round, and saw 
the feet of a man, which appeared beneath the bottom of the 
window-curtain. Where fears of supernatural appearances 
were out of the question, our negro was a man of courage ; he 
had no doubt that the man who was concealed behind the 
curtain was a robber, but the idea of a robber did not unnerve 
him like that of an Obeah woman. With presence of mind 
worthy of a greater danger, Juba took down his master's pistol, 
which hung over the chimney-piece, and marching deliberately 
up to the enemy, he seized the Jew by the throat, exclaiming — 

* You rob my massa ? — You dead man, if you rob my massa.' 
Terrified at the sight of the pistol, the Jew instantly ex- 
plained who he was, and producing his large purse, assured 
Juba that he was come to lend money, and not to take it from 
his master ; but this appeared highly improbable to Juba, who 
believed his master to be the richest man in the world ; 
besides, the Jew's language was scarcely intelligible to him, 
and he saw secret terror in Solomon's countenance. Solomon 
had an antipathy to the sight of a black, and he shrunk from 
the negro with strong signs of aversion. Juba would not 
relinquish his hold ; each went on talking in his own angry 
gibberish as loud as he could, till at last the negro fairly 
dragged the Jew into the presence of his master and Mr. 
Percival. 

It is impossible to describe Mr. Vincent's confusion, or Mr. 
Percival's astonishment. The Jew's explanation was perfectly 
intelligible to him; he saw at once all the truth. Vincent, 
overwhelmed with shame, stood the picture of despair, incap- 
able of uttering a single syllable. 

453 



BELINDA 

* There is no necessity to borrow this money on my account,' 
said Mr. Percival, calmly ; * and if there were, we could prob- 
ably have it on more reasonable terms than this gentleman 
proposes.* 

*I care not on what terms I have it — I care not what 
becomes of me — I am undone ! ' cried Vincent. 

Mr. Percival coolly dismissed the Jew, made a sig^ to Juba 
to leave the room, and then, addressing himself to Vincent, 
said, * I can borrow the money that I want elsewhere. Fear 
no reproaches from me — I foresaw all this — you have lost this 
sum at play : it is well that it was not your whole fortune. I 
have only one question to ask you, on which depends my 
esteem — ^have you informed Miss Portman of this affair ? ' 

* I have not yet told her, but I was actually half downstairs 
in my way to tell her.' 

* Then, Mr. Vincent, you are still my friend. I know the 
difficulty of such an avowal — but it is necessary.' 

* Cannot you, dear Mr. Percival, save me the intolerable 
shame of confessing my own folly ? Spare me this mortifica- 
tion ! Be yourself the bearer of this intelligence, and the 
mediator in my favour.' 

* I will with pleasure,' said Mr. Percival ; * I will go this 
instant : but I cannot say that I have any hope of persuading 
Belinda to believe in your being irrevocably reclaimed from 
the charms of play.' 

* Indeed, my excellent friend, she may rely upon me : I feel 
such horror at the past, such heartfelt resolution against all 
future temptation, that you may pledge yourself for my total 
reformation.' 

Mr. Percival promised that he would exert all his influence, 
except by pledging his own honour ; to this he could not con- 
sent. * If I have any good news for you, I will return as soon 
as possible ; but I will not be the bearer of any painful intelli- 
gence,' said he ; and he departed, leaving Mr. Vincent in a 
state of anxiety, which, to his temper, was a punishment 
sufficient for almost any imprudence he could have com- 
mitted. 

Mr. Percival returned no more that night. The next 
morning Mr. Vincent received the following letter from 
Belinda. He guessed his fate : he had scarcely power to read 
the words. 

454 



.-■i 



A JEW 

' I promised you that, whenever my own mind should be 
decided, I would not hold yours in suspense ; yet at this 
moment I find it difficult to keep my word. 

* Instead of lamenting, as you have often done, that my 
esteem for your many excellent qualities never rose beyond the 
bounds of friendship, we have now reason to rejoice at this, 
since it will save us much useless pain. It spares me the 
difficulty of conquering a passion that might be fatal to my 
happiness ; and it will diminish the regret which you may feel 
at our separation. I am now obliged to say, that circum- 
stances have made me certain we could not add to our mutual 
felicity by any nearer connection. 

* The hope of enjoying domestic happiness with a person 
whose manners, temper, and tastes suited my own, inclined 
me to listen to your addresses. But this happiness I could 
never enjoy with one who has any propensity to the love of 
play. 

* For my own sake, as well as for yours, I rejoice that your 
fortune has not been materially injured ; as this relieves me 
from the fear that my present conduct should be imputed to 
interested motives. Indeed, such is the generosity of your 
own temper, that in any situation I should scarcely have 
reason to apprehend from you such a suspicion. 

* The absolute impossibility of my forming at present a con- 
nection with another, will prevent you from imagining that I 
am secretly influenced by sentiments different from those which I 
avow ; nor can any weak doubts on this subject expose me to 
my own reproaches. 

*You perceive, sir, that I am not willing utterly to lose 
your esteem, even when I renounce, in the most unequivocal 
manner, all claim upon your affections. If anything should 
appear to you harsh in this letter, I beg you to impute it to 
the real cause — my desire to spare you all painful suspense, by 
convincing you at once that my determination is irrevocable. 
With sincere wishes for your happiness, I bid you farewell. 

< Belinda Portman.' 

A few hours after Mr. Vincent had read this letter he threw 
himself into a post-chaise, and set out for Germany. He saw 
that all hopes of being united to Belinda were over, and he 
hurried as far from her as possible. Her letter rather soothed 

455 



BELINDA 

than irritated his temper ; her praises of his generosity were 
highly gratifying, and they had so powerful an effect upon his 
mind, that he was determined to prove that they were deserved. 
His conscience reproached him with not having made suffici- 
ently honourable mention of Clarence Herve/s conduct, on the 
night when he was on the point of destroying himself. Before 
he left London he wrote a full account of this whole transaction, 
to be given to Miss Portman after his departure. 

Belinda was deeply touched by this proof of his generosity. 
His letter — his farewell letter — she could not read without 
great emotion. It was written with true feeling, but in a 
manly style, without one word of vain lamentation. 

* What a pity,* thought Belinda, * that with so many good 
and great qualities, I should be forced to bid him adieu for 
ever ! ' 

Though she strongly felt the pain of this separation, yet she 
could not recede from her decision : nothing could tempt her 
to connect herself with a man who had the fatal taste for play. 
Even Mr. Percival, much as he loved his ward, much as he 
wished for his union with Belinda, dared not pledge his honour 
for Mr. Vincent on this point. 

Lady Anne Percival, in a very kind and sensible letter, ex- 
pressed the highest approbation of Belinda's conduct ; and the 
most sincere hope that Belinda would still continue to think of 
her with affection and esteem, though she had been so rash in 
her advice, and though her friendship had been apparently so 
selfish. 



CHAPTER XXX 

NEWS 

*Do not expect that I should pretend to be sorry for Mr. 
Vincent,' said Lady Delacour. * Let him be as generous and 
as penitent as he pleases, I am heartily glad that he is on his 
way to Germany. I daresay he will find in the upper or lower 
circles of the empire some heroine in the Kotzebue taste, who 
will alternately make him miserable till he is happy, and happy 

456 



NEWS 

till he is miserable. He is one of those men who require great 
emotions : fine lovers these make for stage effect — but the 
worst husbands in the world ! 

*I hope, Belinda, you give me credit, for having judged 
better of Mr. Vincent than Lady Anne Percival did ? ' 

* For having judged worse of him, you mean ? Lady Anne 
always judges as well as possible of everybody.' 

* I will allow you to play upon words in a friend's defence, 
but do not be alarmed for the reputation of Lady Anne's 
judgment. If it will be any satisfaction to you, I can with 
thorough sincerity assure you that I never liked her so well 
in my life as since I have detected her in a mistake. It saves 
her, in my imagination, from the odium of being a perfect 
character.' 

* And there was something so handsome in her manner of 
writing to me, when she found out her error,' said Belinda. 

* Very true, and my friend Mr. Percival behaved handsomely. 
Where friendships clash, it is not every man who has clearness 
of head sufficient to know his duty to his neighbour. Mr. 
Percival said no more than just the thing he ought, for his 
ward. You have reason to be obliged to him : and as we are 
returning thanks to all persons concerned in our deliverance 
from this imminent danger, Juba, the dog, and Juba, the 
black, and Solomon, the Jew, ought to come in for their share ; 
for without that wrestling match of theirs, the truth might 
never have been dragged to light, and Mr. Vincent would have 
been in due course of time your lord and master. But the 
danger is over ; you need not look so terrified : do not be like 
the man who dropped down dead with terror, when he was 
shown by daylight the broken bridge which he had galloped 
over in the dark.' 

Lady Delacour was in such high spirits that, without regard 
to connection, she ran on from one subject to another. ' 

* You have proved to me, my dear,' said she, * that you are 
not a girl to marry, because the day was fixed, or because things 
had gone so far. I give you infinite credit for your civil courage^ 
as Dr. X calls it : military courage, as he said to me yester- 
day — military courage, that seeks the bubble reputation even in 
the cannon's mouth, may be had for sixpence a day. But civil 
courage, such as enabled the Princess Parizade, in the Arabian 
Tales, to go straight up the hill to her object, though the 

457 



BELINDA 

magical multitude of advising and abusive voices continually 
called to her to turn back, is one of the rarest qualities in man 
or woman, and not to be had for love, money, or admiration.' 

* You place admiration not only above money, but above love, 
in your climax, I perceive,' said Belinda, smiling. 

* I will give you leave to be as philosophically sarcastic as 
you please, my dear, if you will only smile, and if you will not 
look as pale as Seneca's Paulina, whose story we heard — from 
whom ? ' 

*From Mr. Hervey, I believe.' 

* His name was ready upon your lips ; I hope he was not far 
from your thoughts ? ' 

* No one could be farther from my thoughts,' said Belinda. 

* Well, very likely — I believe it, because you say it ; and 
because it is impossible.' 

* Rally me as much as you please, my dear Lady Delacour, 
I assure you that I speak the simple truth.' 

* I cannot suspect you of affectation, my dear. Therefore 
honestly tell me, if Clarence Hervey were at your feet this in- 
stant, would you spurn him from you ? ' 

* Spurn him I no — I would neither spurn him, nor motion 
him from mej but without using any of the terms in the heroine's 
dictionary ' 

* You would refuse him ? ' interrupted Lady Delacour, with 
a look of indignation — *you would refuse him ?' 

* I did not say so, I believe.* 

* You would accept him ? ' 

* I did not say so, / am sure.* 

* Oh, you would tell him that you were not accustomed \.o him ?' 

* Not exactly in those words, perhaps.' 

* Well, we shall not quarrel about words,' said Lady Dela- 
cour ; * I only beg you to remember your own principles ; and 
if ever you are put to the trial, be consistent. The first thing 
in a philosopher is to be consistent.' 

* Fortunately, for the credit of my philosophy, there is no 
immediate danger of its being put to the test.' 

* Unfortunately, you surely mean ; unless you are afraid that 
it might not stand the test. But I was going, when I spoke of 
consistency, to remind you that all your own and Mr. Percival's 
arguments about Jirst loves may now, with equal propriety, be 
turned against you.' 

458 



NEWS 

* How against me ? ' 

* They are evidently as applicable to second as to first loves, 
I think.' 

* Perhaps they are,' said Belinda ; * but I really and truly am 
not inclined to think of love at present ; particularly as there is 
no necessity that I should.' 

Belinda took up a book, and Lady Delacour for one half 
hour abstained from any farther raillery. But longer than half 
an hour she could not be silent on the subject uppermost in her 
thoughts. 

* If Clarence Hervey,' cried she, * were not the most honour- 
able of blockheads, he might be the most happy of men. This 
Virginia! — oh, how I hate her! — I am sure poor Clarence 
cannot love her.' 

* Because you hate her — or because you hate her without 
having ever seen her ? ' said Belinda. 

* Oh, I know what she must be,' replied Lady Delacour : * a 
soft, sighing, dying damsel, who puts bullfinches into her bosom. 
Smile, smile, my dear ; you cannot help it ; in spite of all 
your generosity, I know you must think as I do, and wish 
as I do, that she were at the bottom of the Black Sea this 
instant.' 

Lady Delacour stood for some minutes musing, and then ex- 
claimed, * I will move heaven and earth to break off this absurd 
match.' 

* Good Heavens ! my dear Lady Delacour, what do you 
mean ? ' 

* Mean ! my dear — I mean what I say, which very few 
people do : no wonder I should surprise you.' 

* I conjure you,* cried Belinda, * if you have the least regard 
for my honour and happiness * 

* I have not the least, but the greatest ; and depend upon it, 
my dear, I will do nothing that shall injure that dignity of mind 
and delicacy of character^ which I admire and love, as much as 
Clarence Hervey did, and does. Trust to me : not Lady Anne 
Percival herself can be more delicate in her notions of propriety 
than I am for my friends, and, since my reformation, I hope I 
may add, for myself. Fear nothing.' As she finished these 
words, she rang for her carriage. * I don't ask you to go out 
with me, my dear Belinda ; I give you leave to sit in this arm- 
chair till I come back again, with your feet upon the fender, a 

459 



BELINDA 

book in your hand, and this little table beside you, like Lady S.'s 
picture of Comfort.' 

Lady Delacour spent the rest of the morning abroad ; and 
when she returned home, she gave no account of what she had 
been doing, or of what or whom she had seen. This was so 
unusual, that Belinda could not avoid taking notice of it. 
Notwithstanding her ladyship's eulogium upon her own delicate 
sense of propriety. Miss Portman could not confide, with perfect 
resignation, in her prudence. 

* Your ladyship reproached me once,' said she, in a playful 
tone, * for my provoking want of curiosity : you have completely 
cured me of this defect, for never was woman more curious than 
I am, at this instant, to know the secret scheme that you have 
in agitation.' 

*Have patience a little longer, and the mystery will be 
unravelled. In the meantime, trust that everything I do is 
for the best However, as you have behaved pretty well, 
I will give you one leading hint, when you have explained 
to me what you meant by saying that your heart is not at 
present inclined to love. Pray, have you quarrelled with love 
for ever ? ' 

* No ; but I can exist without it,* 

* Have you a heart ? ' 

* I hope so.' 

* And it can exist without love ? I now understand what 
was once said to me by a foolish lordling : — " Of what use is 
the sun to the dial ? '" i 

Company came in, and relieved Belinda from any further 
raillery. Lady Boudier and Mrs. Margaret Delacour were, 
amongst a large party, to dine at Lady Delacour's. At dinner, 
the dowager seized the first auspicious moment of silence to 
announce a piece of intelligence, which she flattered herself 
would ^x the eyes of all the world upon her. 

* So Mr. Clarence Hervey is married at last ! ' 

* Married 1 ' cried Lady Delacour : she had sufficient pre- 
sence of mind not to look directly at Belinda ; but she fixed 
the dowager's eyes, by repeating, * Married ! Are you sure 
of it?' 

* Positive — positive ! He was privately married yesterday 
at his aunt. Lady Almeria's apartments, at Windsor, to Miss 

1 A fact 
460 



NEWS 

Hartley. I told you it was to be, and now it is over ; and a 
very extraordinary match Mr. Hervey has made of it, after all. 
Think of his going at last, and marrying a girl who has been his 
mistress for years ! Nobody will visit her, to be sure. Lady 
Almeria is excessively distressed ; she did all she could to 
prevail on her brother, the bishop, to marry his nephew, but he 
very properly refused, giving it as a reason, that the girl's 
character was too well known.' 

' I thought the bishop was at Spa,' interposed a gentleman, 
whilst the dowager drew breath. 

*0h dear, no, sir; you have been misinformed,' resumed 
she. * The bishop has been returned from Spa this great while, 
and he has reftised to see his nephew, to my certain knowledge. 
After all, I cannot but pity poor Clarence for being driven into 
this match. Mr. Hartley has a prodigious fine fortune, to be 
sure, and he hurried things forward at an amazing rate, to patch 
up his daughter's reputation. He said, as I am credibly 
informed, yesterday morning, that if Clarence did not marry the 
girl before night, he would carry her and her fortune off the 
next day to the West Indies. Now the fortune was certainly 
an object.' 

* My dear Lady Boucher,' interrupted Lord Delacour, * you 
must be misinformed in that particular : fortune is no object to 
Clarence Hervey; he is too generous a fellow to marry for 
fortune. What do you think — what do you say. Lady Dela- 
cour ? ' 

' I say, and think, and feel, as you do, my lord,' said Lady 
Delacour. 

* You say, and think, and feel the same as my lord. — ^Very 
extraordinary indeed ! ' said the dowager. * Then if it were 
not for the sake of the fortune, pray why did Mr. Hervey 
marry at all ? Can anybody guess ? ' 

* I should guess because he was in love,' said Lord Dela- 
cour ; * for I remember that was the reason I married myself.' 

* My dear good lord — but when I tell you the girl had been 
his mistress, till he was tired of her ' 

*My Lady Boucher,' said Mrs. Margaret Delacour, who 
had hitherto listened in silence, * my Lady Boucher, you have 
been misinformed ; Miss Hartley never was Clarence Hervey's 
mistress.' 

* I'm mighty glad you think so, Mrs. Delacour ; but I 

461 



BELINDA 

assure you nobody else is so charitable. Those who live in 
the world hear a great deal more than those who live out of 
the world. I can promise you, nobody will visit the bride, and 
that is the thing by which we are to judge.' 

Then the dowager and the rest of the company continued 
to descant upon the folly of the match. Those who wished to 
pay their court to Lady Delacour were the loudest in their 
astonishment at his throwing himself away in this manner. 
Her ladyship smiled, and kept them in play by her address, 
on purpose to withdraw all eyes from Miss Portman, whilst, 
from time to time, she stole a glance at Belinda, to observe 
how she was affected by what passed : she was provoked by 
Belinda's self-possession. At last, when it had been settled 
that all the Herveys were odd^ but that this match of Clarence's 
was the oddest of all the odd things that any of the family had 
done for many generations, Mrs. Delacour calmly said, 'Are 
you sure. Lady Boucher, that Mr. Hervey is married ? ' 

* Positive ! as I said before, positive ! Madam, my woman 
had it from Lady Newland's Swiss, who had it from Lady 
Singleton's Frenchwoman, who had it from Longueville, the 
hairdresser, who had it from Lady Almeria's own woman, who 
was present at the ceremony, and must know if anybody does.' 

' The report has come to us zigzag as quick as lightning, 
yet it does not flash conviction upon me,' said Lady Delacour. 

* Nor upon me,' said Mrs. Delacour, * for this simple reason. 
I have seen Miss Hartley within these two hours, and I had it 
from herself that she is not married.' 

* Not married ! ' cried the dowager with terror. 

* I rather think not ; she is now with her father, at my 
house at dinner, I believe, and Clarence Hervey is at Lady 
Almeria's, at Windsor : her ladyship is confined by a fit of the 
gout, and sent for her nephew yesterday. If people who live 
out of the world hear less, they sometimes hear more correctly 
than those who live in it.' 

* Pray when does Mr. Hervey return from Windsor ? ' said 
the incorrigible dowager. 

* To-morrow, madam,' said Mrs. Delacour. * As your lady- 
ship is going to several parties this evening, I think it but 
charitable to set you right in these particulars, and I hope you 
will be so charitable as to contradict the report of Miss 
Hartley's having been Clarence's mistress.' 

462 



NEWS 

* Why, as to that, if the young lady is not married, we must 
presume there are good reasons for it,' said the dowager. 

* Pray, on which side was the match broken off?' 

* On neither side,' answered Mrs. Delacour. 

* The thing goes on then ; and what day is the marriage to 
take place ? ' said Lady Boucher. 

* On Monday — or Tuesday — or Wednesday — or Thursday 
— or Friday — or Saturday — or Sunday, I believe,' replied Mrs. 
Delacour, who had the prudent art of giving answers effectually 
baffling to the curiosity of gossips. 

The dowager consoled herself in her utmost need with a 
full plate of brandy peaches, and spoke not a word more during 
the second course. When the ladies retired after the dessert, 
she again commenced hostilities : she dared not come to open 
war with Mrs. Delacour ; but in a bye-battle, in a comer, she 
carried everjrthing before her ; and she triumphantly whispered, 

* We shall see, ma'am, that it will turn out, as I told you, that 
Miss Rachel, or Virginia, or whatever he pleases to call her, 
has been what I said ; and, as I said, nobody will visit her, 
not a soul : fifty people I can count who have declared to me 
they've made up their minds ; and my own's made up, I 
candidly confess ; and Lady Delacour, I am sure by her silence 
and looks, is of my way of thinking, and has no opinion of the 
young lady : as to Miss Portman, she is, poor thing, of course, 
so wrapped up in her own affairs, no wonder she says nothing. 
That was a sad business of Mr. Vincent's ! I am surprised to 
see her look even so well as she does after it. Mr. Percival, 
I am told,' said the well-informed dowager, lowering her voice 
so much that the lovers of scandal were obliged to close their 
heads round her — *Mr. Percival, I am informed, refused his 
consent to his ward (who is not of age) on account of an 
anonymous letter, and it is supposed Mr. Vincent desired it for 
an excuse to get off handsomely. Fighting that duel about 
her with Sir Philip Baddely settled his love — so he is gone to 
Germany, and she is left to wear the willow, which, you see, 
becomes her as well as everything else. Did she eat any 
dinner, ma'am ? you sat next her.' 

* Yes ; more than I did, I am sure.' 

* Very extraordinary ! Then perhaps Sir Philip Baddel/s 
on again — Lord bless me, what a match would that be for her ! 
Why, Mrs. Stanhope might then, indeed, deserve to be called 

463 



NEWS 

the same means of information would have changed hers ; 
once convinced, it is impossible to relapse into suspicion.' 

* Impossible to you : the most truly virtuous women are 
always the least suspicious and uncharitable in their opinion of 
their own sex. Lady Anne Percival inspired me with this 
belief, and Miss Portman confirms it. I admire your courage 
in daring to come forward in the defence of innocence. I am 
very rude, alas ! for praising you so much.' 

' I have not a right to your admiration,' said Belinda ; ' for 
I must honestly confess to you that I should not have this 
courage if there were any danger in the case. I do not think 
that in doubtful cases it is the business of a young woman to 
hazard her own reputation by an attempt to preserve another's : 
I do not imagine, at least, that I am of sufficient consequence 
in the world for this purpose ; therefore I should never attempt 
it. It is the duty of such women as Mrs. Delacour, whose 
reputation is beyond the power of scandal, to come forward in 
the defence of injured innocence ; but this would not be courage 
in Belinda Portman, it would be presumption and temerity.' 

* Well, if you will not let me admire your courage, or your 
generosity, or your prudence,' said Mrs. Delacour laughing, 
* you must positively let me admire you altogether, and love 
you too, for I cannot help it. Farewell.' 

After the company was gone, Lady Delacour was much 
surprised by the earnestness with which Belinda pressed the 
request that they might the next morning pay a visit to 
Virginia. 

* My dear,' said Lady Delacour, * to tell you the truth, I am 
full of curiosity, and excessively anxious to go. I hesitated 
merely on your account : I fancied that you would not like the 
visit, and that if I went without you, it might be taken notice 
of ; but I am delighted to find that you will come with me : I 
can only say that you have more generosity than I should 
have in the same situation.' 

The next morning they went together to Mrs. Delacour's. 
In their way thither, Belinda, to divert her own thoughts, and 
to rouse Lady Delacour from the profound and unnatural 
silence into which she had ^len, petitioned her to finish the 
history of Sir Philip Baddely, the dog. Miss Annabella Lutt- 
ridge, and her billet-doux. 

* For some of my high crimes and misdemeanours, you 

467 



BELINDA 

vowed that you would not tell me the remainder of the story 
till the whole week had elapsed ; now will you satisfy my 
curiosity ? You recollect that you left off just where you said 
that you were come to the best part of the story.' 

* Was I ? did I ? — Very true, we shall have time enough to 
finish it by and by, my dear,' said Lady Delacour ; * at present 
my poor head is running upon something else, and I have 
left off being an accomplished actress, or I could talk of 
one subject and think of another as well as the best of you. — 
Stop the carriage, my dear ; I am afraid they have forgot my 
orders.' 

*Did you carry what I desired this morning to Mrs, 
Delacour ? ' said her ladyship to one of the footmen. 

* I did, my lady.' 

* And did you say from me, that it was not to be opened 
till I came?' 

* Yes, my lady.' 

* Where did you leave it ? ' 

* In Mrs. Delacour's dressing-room, my lady : — she desired 
me to take it up there, and she locked the door, and said no 
one should go in till you came.' 

* Very well — go on. Belinda, my dear, I hope that I have 
worked up your curiosity to the highest pitch.' 



CHAPTER XXXI 

THE DENOUEMENT 

Curiosity was not, at this instant, the strongest passion in 
Belinda's mind. When the carriage stopped at Mrs. Delacour's 
door, her heart almost ceased to beat ; but she summoned 
resolution to go through, with firmness and dignity, the task 
she had undertaken. / 

Clarence Hervey was not in the room when they entered, 
nor was Virginia: Mrs. Ormond said that she had been 
extremely feverish during the night, and that she had advised 
her not to get up till late in the day. But Mrs. Delacour 

468 



THE DENOUEMENT 

immediately went for her, and in a few minutes she made her 
appearance. 

Belinda and Lady Delacour exchanged a glance of surprise 
and admiration. There was a grace and simplicity in her 
manner, joined to an air of navvetd^ that made an irresistible 
impression in her favour. Lady Delacour, however, after the 
first surprise was over, seemed to relapse into her former 
opinion ; and the piercing looks which her ladyship from time 
to time cast upon Virginia as she spoke, produced their effect. 
She was abashed and silent. Belinda endeavoured to engage 
her in conversation, and to her she talked with ease and even 
with freedom. Virginia examined Miss Portman*s countenance 
with a species of artless curiosity and interest, that was not 
restrained by Petitions politeness. This examination was not 
peculiarly agreeable to Belinda, yet it was made with so much 
apparent simplicity, that she could not be displeased. 

On the first pause in the conversation, Mrs. Delacour said, 

* Pray, my dear Lady Delacour, what is this wonderful present 
that you sent to me this morning, which you desired that no 
one should see till you came ? ' 

* I cannot satisfy your curiosity yet,' replied Lady Delacour. 

* I must wait till Clarence Hervey comes, for the present is 
intended for him.' 

An air of solemn mystery in her ladyship's manner, as she 
pronounced these words, excited general attention. There was 
a dead silence, which lasted several minutes : some feeble 
attempts were then made by each of the company to start a 
fresh subject of conversation ; but it would not do — all relapsed 
into the silence of expectation. At last Clarence Hervey 
arrived. Belinda rejoiced that the universal curiosity which 
Lady Delacour had inspired prevented any one's observing the 
sudden change in Mr. Hervey's countenance when he beheld 
her. 

* A pretty set of curious children you are ! ' cried Lady 
Delacour, laughing. * Do you know, Clarence, that they are 
all dying with impatience to see un gage (Vamitii that I have 
brought for you ; and the reason that they are so curious is 
simply because I had the address to say, in a solemn voice, 
" I cannot satisfy your curiosity till Clarence Harvey arrives." 
Now follow me, my friends ; and if you be disappointed, lay 
the blame, not on me, but on your own imaginations.' 

469 



BELINDA 

She led the way to Mrs. Delacour's dressing-room, and all 
the company followed. 

* Now, what do you expect to see ? ' said she, putting the 
key into the door. 

After waiting some moments for a reply, but in vain, she 
threw open the door, and they saw, hung before the wall 
opposite to them, a green curtain. 

* I thought, my dear Clarence,' resumed Lady Delacour, 
* that no present could be more agreeable to you than a com- 
panion for your Virginia. Does this figure,' continued she, 
drawing back the curtain, * does this figure give you the idea 
of Paul ? ' 

* Paul ! ' said Clarence ; * it is a naval officer in full uniform : 
what can your ladyship mean ? ' 

* Virginia perhaps will know what I mean, if you will only 
stand out of her way, and let her see the picture.' 

At these words Clarence made way for Virginia : she turned 
her eyes upon the picture, uttered a piercing shriek, and fell 
senseless upon the floor. 

* Take it coolly,* said Lady Delacour, * and she will come to 
her senses presendy. Young ladies must shriek and faint upon 
certain occasions ; but men (looking at Clarence Hervey) need 
not always be dupes. This is only a scene; consider it as such, 
and admire the actress as I do.' 

* Actress ! Oh, she is no actress ! ' cried Mrs. Ormond. 
Clarence Hervey raised her from the ground, and Belinda 

sprinkled water over her face. 

* She's dead ! — she's dead ! Oh, my sweet child ! she's 
dead 1 ' exclaimed Mrs. Ormond, trembling so violently, that 
she could not sustain Virginia. 

'She is no actress, indeed,' said Clarence Hervey: *her 
pulse is gone ! ' 

Lady Delacour looked at Virginia's pale lips, touched her 
cold hands, and with a look of horror cried out, *Good 
Heavens ! what have I done ? What shall we do with 
her?' 

* Give her air — give her air, air, air ! ' cried Belinda. 
*You keep the air from her, Mrs. Ormond,' said Mrs, 

Delacour. * Let us leave her to Miss Portman ; she has more 
presence of mind than any of us.' And as she spoke she 
forced Mrs. Ormond away with her out of the room. 

470 



THE DENOUEMENT 

'If Mr. Hartley should come, keep him with you, Mrs. 
Delacour,' said Clarence Hervey. * Is her pulse quite gone ?' 

* No ; it beats stronger and stronger,' said Belinda. 

* Her colour is returning,' said Lady Delacour. * There ! 
raise her a little, dear Belinda ; she is coming to herself.' 

*Had not you better draw the curtain again before that 
picture,' said Miss Portman, * lest she should see it the moment 
she opens her eyes ? ' 

Virginia came slowly to her recollection, saw Lady Delacour 
drawing the curtain before the picture, then fixed her eyes 
upon Clarence Hervey, without uttering a word. 

* Are you better now ? ' said he, in a gentle tone. 

* Oh, do not speak — do not look so kindly ! ' cried Virginia. 
* I am well — quite well — ^better than I deserve to be ; ' and she 
pressed Belinda's hand, as if to thank her for assisting and 
supporting her. 

* We may safely leave her now,' whispered Belinda to Lady 
Delacour ; * we are strangers, and our presence only distresses 
her.' 

They withdrew. But the moment Virginia found herself 
alone with Mr. Hervey, she was seized with a universal tremor ; 
she tried to speak, but could not articulate. At last she burst 
into a flood of tears ; and when this had in some measure 
relieved her, she threw herself upon her knees, and clasping her 
hands, exclaimed, as she looked up to heaven — 

* Oh, if I knew what I ought to do ! — if I knew what I ought 
to say ! ' 

* Shall I tell you, Virginia ? And will you believe me ? ' 

* Yes, yes, yes ! ' 

* You ought to say — the truth, whatever it may be.' 

*But you will think me the most ungratefiil of human 
beings ? ' 

* How often must I assure you, Virginia, that I make no 
claim upon your gratitude ? Speak to me — I conjure you, as 
you value your happiness and mine — speak to me without 
disguise 1 What is all this mystery ? Why should you fear to 
let me know what passes in your heart ? Why did you shriek 
at the sight of that picture ? ' 

* Oh, forgive me ! forgive me 1 ' cried Virginia : she would 
have sunk at his feet, if he had not prevented her. 

* I will — I can forgive anything but deceit. Do not look at 

471 



BELINDA 

me with so much terror, Virginia — I have not deserved it : my 
wish is to make you happy. I would sacrifice even my own 
happiness to secure yours ; but do not mislead me, or you ruin 
us both. Cannot you give me a distinct answer to this simple 
question — Why did you shriek at the sight of that picture ? ' 

< Because — but you will call me *'^ perfidious^ ungrateful 
Virginia / " — because I have seen that figure — he has knelt to 
me — ^he has kissed my hand — and I * 

Clarence Hervey withdrew his arms, which had supported 
her, and placing her upon a sofa, left her, whilst he walked up 
and down the room for some minutes in silence. 

*And why, Virginia,' said he, stopping short, *was it 
necessary to conceal all this from me ? Why was it necessary 
to persuade me that I was beloved ? Why was it necessary that 
my happiness should be the sacrifice ? ' 

' It shall not 1 — ^it shall not ! Your happiness shall not be 
the sacrifice. Heaven is my witness, that there is no sacrifice 
I would not make for you. Forgive me that shriek ! I could 
not help fainting, indeed ! But I will be yours — I ought to be 
yours ; and I am not perfidious — I am not ungrateful : do not 
look upon me as you did in my dream ! ' 

< Do not talk to me of dreams, my dear Virginia ; this is no 
time for trifling ; I ask no sacrifice from you — I ask nothing 
but truth.' 

< Truth ! Mrs. Ormond knows all the truth : I have con- 
cealed nothing from her.' 

* But she has concealed everything from me,' cried Clarence ; 
and, with a sadden impulse of indignation, he was going to 
sununon her, but when his hand was upon the lock of the door 
he paused, returned to Virginia, and said, * Let me hear the 
truth from your lips : it is all I shall ever ask from you. How 
— when — where did you see this man ? ' 

' What man ? ' said Virginia, looking up, with a simple 
expression of innocence in her countenance. 
Clarence pointed to the picture. 

* At the village in the New Forest, at Mrs. Smith's house,* 
said Virginia, * one evening when I walked with her from my 
grandmother's cottage.' 

* And your grandmother knew of this ? ' 

'Yes,' said Virginia, blushing, 'and she was very much 
displeased.' 

472 



THE DENOUEMENT 

* And Mrs. Ormond knew of this ? ' pursued Clarence. 

< Yes ; but she told me that you would not be displeased 
at it.' 

Mr. Hervey made another hasty step toward the door, but 
restraining his impetuous temper, he again stopped, and leaning 
over the back of a chair, opposite to Virginia, waited in silence 
for her to proceed. He waited in vain. 

' I do not mean to distress you, Miss Hartley,' said he. 

She burst into tears. ' I knew, I knew,' cried she, ' that 
you would be displeased ; I told Mrs. Ormond so. I knew you 
would never forgive me.' 

* In that you were mistaken,' said Clarence, mildly ; * I forgive 
you without difficulty, as I hope you may forgive yourself: nor 
can it be my wish to extort from you any mortifying confes- 
sions. But, perhaps, it may yet be in my power to serve you, 
if you will trust to me. I will myself speak to your father. I 
will do everything to secure to you the object of your affections, 
if you will, in this last moment of our connection, treat me with 
sincerity, and suffer me to be your friend,' 

Virginia sobbed so violently for some time, that she could 
not speak : at last she said, < You are — ^you are the most 
generous of men 1 You have always been my best friend I I 
am the most ungrateful of human beings 1 But I am sure I 
never wished, I never intended, to deceive you. Mrs. Ormond 
told me ^ 

* Do not speak of her at present, or perhaps I may lose my 
temper,' interrupted Clarence in an altered voice : * only tell 
me — I conjure you, tell me — in one word, who is this man ? 
and where is he to be found ? ' 

< I do not know. I do not understand you,' said Virginia. 

* You do not know ! You will not trust me. Then I must 
leave you to — to Mr. Hartley,' 

* Do not leave me — oh, do not leave me in anger ! ' cried 
Virginia, clinging to him. * Not trust you ! — I ! — not trust 
you ! Oh, what can you mean ? I have no confessions to 
make ! Mrs. Ormond knows every thought of my mind, and 
so shall jou, if you will only hear me. I do not know who 
this man is, I assure you ; nor where he is to be found.' 

* And yet you love him ? Can you love a man whom you 
do not know, Virginia ? ' 

* I only love his figure, I believe,' said Virginia. 

473 



BELINDA 

* His figure ! ' 

* Indeed I am quite bewildered,* said Virginia, looking round 
wildly ; * I know not what I feeL' 

* If you permitted this man to kneel to you, to kiss your 
hand, surely you must know that you love him, Virginia ? ' 

* But that was only in a dream ; and Mrs. Ormond said * 

* Only a dream ! But you met him at Mrs. Smith's, in the 
New Forest ? ' 

* That was only a picture.' _ 

« Only a picture 1 — but you have seen the original ? ' 

* Never — never in my life ; and I wish to Heaven I had 
never, never seen the fatal picture ! the image haunts me day 
and night. When I read of heroes in the day, that figure rises 
to my view, instead of yours. When I go to sleep at night, 
I see it, instead of yours, in my dreams ; it speaks to me, it 
kneels to me. I long ago told Mrs. Ormond this, but she 
laughed at me. I told her of that frightful dream. I saw you 
weltering in your blood ; I tried to save you, but could not. I 
heard you say, " Perfidious, ungrateful Virginia I you are the 
cause of my death." Oh, it was the most dreadful night I ever 
passed ! Still this figure, this picture, was before me ; and he 
was the knight of the white plumes ; and it was he who stabbed 
you ; but when I wished him to be victorious, I did not know- 
that he was fighting against you. So Mrs. Ormond told me 
that I need not blame myself; and she said that you were not 
so foolish as to be jealous of a picture ; but I knew you would 
be displeased — I knew you would think me ungrateful — I knew 
you would never forgive me.' 

Whilst Virginia rapidly uttered all this, Clarence marked 
the wild animation of her eyes, the sudden changes of her 
countenance ; he recollected her father's insanity ; every feeling 
of his mind gave way to terror and pity ; he approached her 
with all the calmness that he could assume, took both her hands, 
and holding them in his, said, in a soothing voice — 

* My dear Virginia, you are not ungrateful. I do not think 
you so. I am not displeased with you. You have done nothing 
to displease me. Compose yourself, dear Virginia.' 

^ I am quite composed, now you again call me dear Virginia. 
Only I am afraid, as I always told Mrs. Ormond, that I do not 
love you enough; but she said that I did, and that my fear was 
the strongest proof of my affection.' 

474 



THE DENOUEMENT 

Virginia now spoke in so consistent a manner that Clarence 
could not doubt that she was in the clear possession of her 
understanding. She repeated to him all that she had said to 
Mrs. Ormond ; and he began to hope that, without any inten- 
tion to deceive, Mrs. Ormond's ignorance of the human heart 
led her into a belief that Virginia was in love with him ; whilst, 
in fact, her imagination, exalted by solitude and romance, em- 
bodied and became enamoured of a phantom. 

* I always told Mrs. Ormond that she was mistaken,* said 
Clarence. * I never believed that you loved me, Virginia, till 
— (he paused and carefully examined her countenance) — till 
you yourself gave me reason to think so. Was it only a 
principle of gratitude, then, that dictated your answer to my 
letter ? ' 

She looked irresolute : and at last, in a low voice, said, ' If 

I could see, if I could speak to Mrs. Ormond * 

* She cannot tell what are the secret feelings of your heart, 
Virginia. Consult no Mrs. Ormond. Consult no human crea- 
ture but yourself.' 

* But Mrs. Ormond told me that you loved me, and that you 
had educated me to be your wife.' 

Mr. Hervey made an involuntary exclamation against Mrs. 
Ormond' s folly. 

* How, then, can you be happy,' continued Virginia, * if I am 
so ungrateful as to say I do not love you ? That I do not love 
you ! — Oh ! tAat I cannot say ; for I do love you better than 
any One living except my father, and with the same sort of 
affection that I feel for him. You ask me to tell you the secret 
feelings of my heart : the only secret feeling of which I am 
conscious is — a wish not to marry, unless I could see in reality 

such a person as But that I knew was only a picture, a 

dream ; and I thought that I ought at least to sacrifice my 
foolish imaginations to you, who have done so much for me. 
I knew that it would be the height of ingratitude to refuse you ; 
and besides, my father told me that you would not accept of 
my fortune without my hand, so I consented to marry you : 
forgive me, if these were wrong motives — I thought them right. 
Only tell me what I can do to make you happy, as I am sure 
I wish to do ; to that wish I would sacrifice every other 
feeling.' 

* Sacrifice nothing, dear Virginia. We may both be happy 

475 



BELINDA 

without making any sacrifice of our feelings,' cried Clarence. 
And, transported at regaining his own freedom, Virginia's sim- 
plicity never appeared to him so charming as at this moment. 
* Dearest Virginia, forgive me for suspecting you for one instant 
of anything unhandsome. Mrs. Ormond, with the very best 
intentions possible, has led us both to the brink of misery. 
But I find you such as I always thought you, ingenuous, affec- 
tionate, innocent.' 

* And you are not angry with me ? * interrupted Virginia, 
with joyful eagerness ; * and you will not think me ungrateful ? 
And you will not be unhappy ? And Mrs. Ormond was mis- 
taken ? And you do not wish that I should love you, that I 
should be your wife, I mean ? Oh, don't deceive me, for I can- 
not help believing whatever you say.' 

Clarence Hervey, to give her a convincing proof that Mrs. 
Ormond had misled her as to his sentiments, immediately 
avowed his passion for Belinda. 

* You have relieved me from all doubt, all fear, all anxiety,' 
said Virginia, with the sweetest expression of innocent affec- 
tion in her countenance. ' May you be as happy as you 
deserve to be I May Belinda — is not that her name ? — May 
Belinda ^ 

At this moment Lady Delacour half opened the door, ex- 
claiming— 

* Human patience can wait no longer ! * 

' Will you trust me to explain for you, dear Virginia ? ' said 
Clarence. 

* Most willingly,' said Virginia, retiring as Lady Delacour 
advanced. * Pray leave me here alone, whilst you, who are 
used to talk before strangers, speak for me.' 

* Dare you venture, Clarence,' said her ladyship, as she 
closed the door, ' to leave her alone with that picture ? You 
are no lover, if you be not jealous.' 

*I am not jealous,' said Clarence, *yet I am a lover — a 
passionate lover.' 

* A passionate lover I ' cried Lady Delacour, stopping short 
as they were crossing the antechamber : — * then I have done 
nothing but mischief. In love with Virginia ? I will not — ' 
cannot believe it.' 

* In love with Belinda ! — Cannot you, will not you believe 
it?' 

476 



THE DENOUEMENT 

* My dear Clarence, I never doubted it for an instant. But 
are you at liberty to own it to anyb